The premise to the second book
in Lindskold's latest series -- which
is inspired by the signs of the
Chinese zodiac -- is unfortunately
a lot more interesting than the novel itself. The voices of the characters
all read the same; the main conflict between Brenda and the other young woman has to do with their shared interest in a young man; and there
are short bursts of action punctuated with stretches of meetings that seem
to go on forever.
Brenda Morris is still reeling from the news that she is the heir to a set of mystical powers when she's thrown into a complicated and political battle. Brenda's family holds the power of the Rat, while she trains alongside the Dog and her elderly aunt Pearl is the Tiger -- among others who refer to themselves collectively as the Thirteen Orphans.
Generations after her ancestors fled the Land of Smoke and Sacrifice to the relative safety of Earth, the lands are at war again and their Dragon, Tiger, Snake and Monkey are trapped on Earth -- unless the orphans can build the Nine Gates. (TOR, Aug., 400 pp., $24.95)