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    Review of THE WARRIORS RETURN by A. W. G. Coleman


    With the long-lost Book of War, wizard Davron can summon creatures who cannot be killed. He invades the mountain command of the world's leader and sends the legal government into exile, then consolidates his gains. But that world is only the beginning of Davron's plans. Using magical powers, he hopes to expand from one plane of existance to the next, until all of creation is under his control. The Book of War was defeated once before, and the planet leader, Fantasma, knows that he'll have to assemble the descendents of the original warriors who defeated the book thousands of years earlier. But the descendents aren't on the planet at all--instead, they're on Earth.

    The Action and Adventure Club of Greengale, USA, is planning its big annual adventure. They agree to attend a fantasy-adventure resort, but Fantasma's power sends their plane into a crash landing in an uncharted island. Once there, Fantasma explains his dilemma, including the fact that the Action and Adventure Club contains the descendents of the original heroes. The group is sent to Fantasma's world, but something goes wrong--and they are scattered across both time and space. Gradually, they seek to find one another, facing attacks by Davron's armies and Book of War creatures. Worse, Davron captures one of the members and somehow converts her, making her his wife.

    Author A. W. G. Coleman has many of the ingredients of a successful story. The fish-out-of-water Earth humans in a magic realm is always popular. The powerful and destructive enemy who is aided by treachery in the good-guy camp generally creates the basis for some interesting adventure. And it's obvious that Coleman has put a lot of thought into his world-building with such fun (if weird) innovations as a place where everyone becomes comics, two incompatible forms of magic power, and thousands of years of history. Coleman's prose is workmanlike enough, not distracting the reader from the story.

    A few flaws keep QUEST OF THE SEAL BEARERS: THE WARRIORS RETURN from reaching its potential. The large number of club members, with frequent scene changes between them, makes it difficult to keep track of who is doing what, or to learn enough about the characters to care about their problems. If Coleman had intended QUEST to fit into the humor class of SF/Fantasy, he needed to push the envelope a little harder and give a few more laugh-out-loud moments. If that wasn't his intent, it's hard to understand why he included some of the settings and action. Then there's excessive good fortune of the school-aged club members, coupled with incompetence on the part of the enemy. It's hard to take the adventure seriously when the enemy is so incompetent.

    QUEST comes close to being truly enjoyable. It has a lot of positive energy and ideas. Unfortunately, Coleman doesn't quite pull them together into a meaningful whole. Still, QUEST makes a light fun read.

    See more reviews of fantasy by A. W. G. Coleman.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 8/29/05

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