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War Torn: Resurrection by Robert Asprin, Eric Del Carlo
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Books Mass Market  ISBN/ITEM#: 0441012353
Date: 30 January, 2005 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In WarTorn: Resurrection, Asprin and Del Carlo create a world of feuding city-states, caught up in a war of magic and might unlike any in their history. The Isthmus, bridge between two continents ruined by the magical Great Upheavals, is the prize sought by Matokin (or is it?) as his wizard-supported armies march forth.

The story is told through the eyes of several characters, including: Bryck, a famous playwright whose home and family are annihilated by Dardas; Raven, a young wizardess-in-training caught between loyalty to the Felk and her feelings for Dardas; Praulth, a scholar whose genius for war history may turn the war against the Felk; Aquint, a smuggler turned Felk spy, whose cleverness may defeat Bryck?s effort to sabotage the conquerors from within; and Radstac, a female mercenary warrior whose lover and employer Deo may sacrifice himself by striking a blow for his city against the Felk?if she can?t figure out a way to save him. And, of course, there is Dardas himself, who has his own plans now that he?s part of this new and strange world.

As the threads of these individual lives draw together, plans are made and then succeed or fail, each action spurring the fall of another domino. Is Matokin serious about conquering the Isthmus, or is it just a part of a deeper game? Can Dardas learn enough about magic to achieve his own goal?freedom from Matokin?or will he be thwarted from an unexpected quarter? Can Bryck?s cunning stratagems wreck the Felk war effort, or will Aquint foil the playwright?s greatest work of fiction before it becomes reality?

As suggested above, Dardas lies at the heart of this story. His actions, some desperate and some inspired, set in motion every other storyline, directly or not. He is the most fully realized character in the story, with urgent needs and ambitions driving him forward regardless of the risks. The other characters are no less vivid, though it seems unhappily clear that not all of them will be around for the sequel. The working-out of this military campaign, in books yet to come, will be well worth watching.

Readers may be familiar with Asprin as the creator of humorous fantasy and science fiction series such as Myth Inc. and Phule?s Company. However, they should also know that this is the fellow who co-created the famous Thieves? World anthology series; his skill at creating a complex, tightly integrated fantasy setting is well established, and everything he learned then is put to superb use here.

Asprin has said that his own perspective gravitates toward the money when he?s writing, and some of the cleverest ploys in WarTorn: Resurrection center around money. Bryck?s schemes involving the scrip passed by the Felk is one such, while Aquint uses his encyclopedic knowledge of smuggling and black market tradecraft very effectively to spy for the Felk (and to line his own pockets as well). He also shows a knack for writing canny leaders, such as when Dardas insists on rotating his junior officers to serve as his assistants (the better to know them and their qualities), eating the same food as his soldiers (to secure the affection of the troops) and forging alliances with the aloof, distrustful wizards who support his army. It would be impossible to say where Asprin leaves off and Del Carlo begins?Asprin demonstrated similar innovative thinking in the Phule series?but the combination is strong and effective.

Billed as the start of a new adventure series, this book has something for all different sorts of readers. There is plenty of action for combat fantasy fans, there are political machinations for those who like complex intrigues, and there is humor (here and there) for Asprin?s ?base.? It?s a smorgasbord? and it?s recommended.

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