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    THE LESSER KINDRED by Elizabeth Kerner

    TOR, January 2001

    Once a dragon king, Varien is now human, married to Lanen and very much in love. Although they have defeated one set of foes, those who seek power through use of demons still threaten the world. The dragon island is being destroyed by earthquake and volcano and a renegade mage is using demons to seize control of the human world. From their separate paths, mage, dragon, and warrior must unite to oppose the demons and protect their world. If they can somehow find a way to breach the language barrier that has so long separated the dragons from the descendants of those dragons ruined by the long-vanquished Demonlord, they will gain another ally.

    In a twist from the standard fantasy fare, Elizabeth Kerner (see more reviews of novels by Kerner) presents a horribly outnumbered villain, Berys, who single-handedly hopes to defeat the assembled masses of humanity and dragon. At terrible cost to himself, Berys calls forth demons to do his bidding, yet even his allies threaten and hate him. That he is able to accomplish anything, let alone threaten the entire world, is a huge accomplishment--an accomplishment made possible largely by the self-centered nature of his enemies.

    Kerner uses style to reinforce the point of view character. As an ex-dragon king, Varien's viewpoint is marked by poetic language. Berys' is marked by detailed plotting. Jamie and Will view the world in a more straightforward style. Although this style device does serve as a character tag, it can also slow the story. Indeed, the first half of the novel serves as a prologue for the action in the final pages.

    I am excited about the notion of the 'Lesser Kindred,' those dragons who were warped and ruined by the Demonlord. Possibly because THE LESSER KINDRED is a middle book in a series, I did not think the concept sufficiently developed.

    Overall, THE LESSER KINDRED is an enjoyable novel. It lacks that special spark that would make it stand out in the fantasy realm.

    Two Stars

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