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Lord of Lies: Book 2 of the Ea Cycle
David Zindell
Harper Collins Voyager, 675 pages

Lord of Lies
David Zindell
David Zindell was born in 1952 in Toledo Ohio, but has lived all over the USA. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, he earned a B.A. in mathematics (1984), while minoring in anthropology, before turning to writing. His SF story "Shanidar" won the first Writers of the Future Contest in 1985. He was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award in 1986. His first two novels were nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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A review by Adam Volk

Fantasy, perhaps more so than any other form of literature, is a genre that seems to thrive on sequels. Gone are the days when the heroes set out on a noble quest, recovered an ancient talisman and defeated the Dark Lord, all in a mere three books. Instead, today's fantasy series are huge, multi-volume epics, with encyclopedic sized novels that all too often devolve into an endless number of spin-off's and strategically placed prequels. So it is perhaps unsurprising that authors such as David Zindell are attempting to carve a niche for themselves amid the already sizable number of fantasy epics cluttering the shelves.

Zindell however, is a relative newcomer to the fantasy genre, having earned a well-deserved reputation as an SF writer with his magnificent saga A Requiem for Homo Sapiens (comprised of Neverness, The Broken God, The Wild, and War in Heaven). And yet, despite his inexperience within the genre, Zindell has managed to create an entertaining -- if not somewhat clichéd -- fantasy series.

The Ea Cycle, which began in The Lightstone, continues with Lord of Lies, chronicling the further adventures of Valashu Elahad, the seventh son of the King of Mesh and wielder of the ancient blade Alakaladur. Following events in the first book, Valashu (known as Val) and his world-weary companions have returned to Mesh after successfully recovering the Lightstone; a powerful grail-like relic carved in the shape of a golden cup, and believed to possess the ability to bring a long prophesized peace to the kingdoms of Ea. In a plot that will be overly familiar to fantasy readers, the recovery of the ancient artifact proved more difficult than anyone could have imagined, as Val and his companions found themselves battling political intrigues, the elements and of course, the dreaded forces of Ea's own dark lord, Morjin. The saga now continues with Val struggling to unlock the secrets of the Lightstone only to discover that its full power can only be released by the Maitreya, an enlightened figure long foretold in legend. Who or what the Maitreya may be however, remains a mystery and Val and his companions set out once more, this time to discover the identity of the strange prophet. To complicate matters however, Morjin is eager for revenge, and will stop at nothing to recover the Lightstone for his own dark ends and once again Val and his companions find themselves journeying from one end of Ea to the other in a desperate attempt to unravel the secrets of the powerful artifact.

Lord of Lies follows a fairly formulaic plot, and yet despite its often clichéd nature remains an entertaining read. Zindell manages to throw a few plot twists in along the way, and his strong writing and evocative imagery is easily on par with Robert Jordan, terry Goodkind, and David Eddings in terms of a well developed fantasy series.

Where Zindell truly succeeds however, is in his attention to world building and his convincing lead protagonist. The lands of Ea, from the Red Desert to the Alonian Sea are presented as a detailed and fully realized world, and the reader can almost feel the sense of history and depth Zindell has created. Similarly, the novels protagonist is equally as developed. Val fits the typical archetype of the fantasy hero without being overly clichéd. He is compassionate, heroic and a skilled warrior, even as he possesses a strange empathic ability to experience the emotions of those around him (which makes killing a particularly difficult prospect). The remaining characters are also archetypical and yet convincingly lifelike, there is the wizened sage Master Juwain of the Great White Brotherhood, and the cynical comic relief found in the warrior Maram. The remaining characters are also well developed and believable, and are successful both in progressing the plot and developing Val's character.

In the end, Lord of Lies is an entertaining if not somewhat clichéd fantasy epic. Readers hoping to find an innovative reinvention of the genre are likely to be rather disappointed, but fantasy aficionados hoping to satiate their appetites in between the latest Robert Jordan novels will be quite pleased with Zindell's blend of magic and history. The work may not be the most original in terms of plot, but with Zindell's strong writing, intriguing characters and well developed setting, Lord of Lies may very well mark the next chapter in a popular fantasy epic.

Copyright © 2004 Adam Volk

Adam Volk may or may not be a zombie cyborg. He is also an editor with EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (, a freelance writer, a comic book creator and a regular reviewer for the Silver Bullet Comic Books website (

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