A Mankind Witch (The Shadow of the Lion)
by Dave Freer
Review by Lucy Schmeidler
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0743499131
Date: 01 July, 2005 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
A Mankind Witch is a sequel to The Shadow of the Lion, by Lackey, Flint, and Freer, but only in the sense that it takes place in the same world, with some of the same characters; otherwise it is an entirely independent story. It is also funny, with situational rather than slapstick humor. The two main threads of the plot concern a very ingenious young man, captured and branded as a slave, who cares too much about the princess he has been assigned to serve to try to escape, and a rational man--the same man in fact--who experiences magic but needs to explain everything away as a form of trickery.
As historical fantasy, this novel, set in the year 1538, presents several cultures with disparate world views: a brief glimpse of merchantmen and pirates in the Mediterranean, a Viking kingdom in Norway, the world of the Holy Roman Emperor in Mainz and among the knights of his order in Sweden. Never having been good in history, I cannot say to what extent Freer has been faithful to what is known about these places and peoples, only that they feel "right" in the context of his tale.
Freer does a good job of blending action and philosophy, keeping the plot going and his characters growing. He also throws us some short "infodumps" about such matters as changing weaponry, but these are both short and interesting and enhance, rather than interfere with, the story.
A fairly short but delightful read.