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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
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Cover Art: Swords of Waar
Swords of Waar
Nathan Long
Night Shade Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1-59780-429-5, $14.99

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Finding herself back on Earth is about the last thing Jane Carver needs or wants, but the priests of Waar have exiled her back to her home planet. Trouble is, it’s not the most hospitable place for her to be, what with being wanted by the police. She needs to get back to Waar and find Lhan-Lar, the “sweet-talking sharpie with a face like a hot-rod devil and a heart of twenty-four carat gold” with whom she’s fallen in love. Just one tiny problem – how does she do that? (1)

With nowhere else to go, Jane ends up at her friend Eli’s machine shop in California. He takes her home with him, and after supper, she tells him where she’s been for the past six months. But he’s not buying it because . . . he read about her adventure in Norman Prescott’s Savages of the Red Planet, a 1909 sci-fi adventure set on Mars. Eli gives her the book from his collection, and by the time she finishes, she knows one important fact – Prescott had visited Waar. So maybe he can help her get back there. Just one tiny problem – he’s dead.

That detail doesn’t stop Jane. A quick search of the internet reveals there’s a Prescott museum, so she treks over to his granddaughter’s home. Prescott had to have owned a teleport gem, and Jane intends to find it. But the granddaughter has closed the museum and sold all her grandfather’s artifacts to someone in Iowa. Soon after the door closes, though, Jane hears a noise that sounds like “a whole planet full of people whispering gobbledy-gook inside my head.” (18) The teleport gem is somewhere in the granddaughter’s house. Just one tiny problem – the granddaughter thinks Jane is crazy and has called the police.

Nothing deters Jane, even the arrival of the cops. She feigns being suicidal, and they buy it just long enough for the teleport gem to transport her to Waar. Instead of arriving where she can easily find Lahn, she’s buck naked and deep in the temple of the Priests of the Seven – the same guys who drugged her and sent her back to Earth. To them she’s a demon with red hair and pink skin who can leap high because, for her, there’s no gravity on Waar. Next step? Find a way out of the temple and then find Lhan. This time, though, there isn’t just one tiny problem, but a whole slew of them that complicate her life in ways she never dreams. The biggest obstacle may be that she arrived too late. For the priests have sent a ship with a secret weapon to destroy the pirate enclave where Lhan is. By the time she reaches their hideout, he could be dead.

Jane Carver is not your typical pirate heroine. She’s a tough biker chick who wields a mean sword and is quite savvy. Except where Waarian culture is concerned, especially when dealing with Lhan and their relationship. While she left Waar a hero, she also discovers they’re wanted criminals. Not only must they contend with the Priests of Seven, they must discover who’s wielding the power that threatens the empire, rescue their friends, free the kidnapped daughter and son-in-law of the Aldhanan, prevent the Aldhanan’s assassination, and figure out how to save the empire from a severe drought.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, Swords of Waar is not your typical buccaneer tale. And the ships are airships, rather than wooden sailing ships – after all, there is a drought on. But fans of Caribbean pirate tales, especially those that include a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek, will enjoy this rip-roaring adventure reminiscent of pulp fiction, Saturday morning cartoon adventures, serials shown before the feature film, and fantastic adventures heard on old radio shows. The language is a bit raunchy, but from first page to last, Nathan Long keeps you spellbound. He mixes rowdiness with humor to create a wild romp that’s inventive and liberating. He’s a master of world building, and the rich depth to his characters makes them step off the page into your living room (or wherever else you might be).
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Book Review Copyright ©2013 Cindy Vallar

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