After Sacred Ground, there is only one logical book to read, and that is Trio of Sorcery. Sacred Ground is a standalone novel, but in 2010 Lackey wrote a sequel novella “Drums”, which was published in the aforementioned book. It’s an interesting look at her urban fantasy, ranging from the 1970s to 2010, and with prefaces that discuss what technology was and wasn’t available in each time period.
The first novella, “Arcanum 101”, is the first new Diana Tregarde mystery in quite a number of years. Diana is a Guardian – a very powerful mage who is obligated to use her power to help people. Insert far too well known quote from Spiderman here. This tale goes back to her college days, referenced in Burning Water, the second of her books. As I mentioned earlier, it takes place in the 1970s, while Nixon was still President.
Overall, for me, this one is another story of Diana Tregarde and while it may be the first chronologically, it doesn’t tend to drive me to read her other books next. Maybe because none of the other characters in this tale reappear, though ‘Zaak is mentioned in Children of the Night. Maybe I’d like it more if it was a full-length novel and the other characters got more facetime, maybe it reminds me too much of the short story Lackey wrote that was far too Scooby-Doo (this one mentions everyone’s favorite animated mystery-solving dog), maybe it’s just not as good. It’s certainly not bad. And I do enjoy the rest of the Diana Tregarde mysteries, so I guess it’s just this one that ends up being “okay”.
Second is “Drums”, which moves the timeline to the mid-nineties, maybe a year or so after Sacred Ground. I find it to be a good sequel in that it shows the progression of the main characters as well as telling a completely new story. It also perpetuates my belief that there is something in Native American ghost stories that just makes them super creepy for me personally. I’m not a big fan of horror, though I will read it (especially if you put a fantasy or sci-fi skin over it), but some things get me worse than others. This is one of those.
The scare factor probably helps enhance the story and make it more compelling. I think the two factors that bring it above “Arcanum 101″‘s level is first, the fact that there are fewer main characters and second, the fact that Jennifer and David are PIs. A story starring Private Investigators means that the other main characters are from the “mystery of the week”, and so we don’t expect to get to know them super well or even become very attached to them. This is different from Diana’s “Spook Squad” who will, by definition, stick around, then grow up and have Spooky kids.
Last, but certainly not least, is “Ghost in the Machine.” Like “Drums,” the final novella builds off Native American folklore, but in this context it’s being borrowed to help add ambiance to an MMORPG. (If you don’t know that one, I’ll let you look it up. Essentially, World of Warcraft.) However, if the wise reader remembers Lackey’s penchant for magic, then mix it with computers, well, that’s where this story comes from.
Also from her love for computer games. You may have noticed one of the titles I listed in my last post was Wing Commander: Freedom Flight. Yes, that does actually mean the Wing Commander games. I haven’t read it yet, but my guess is that it’s just set in the world of the game, and has no real relation to the in-game story. I won’t be able to tell you if it is or isn’t though, when I do read it, because I’ve never played the game. I’m just theorizing based on reading her books in the world of The Bard’s Tale. And let’s not forget the Secret World Chronicles, which were originally roleplays by Mercedes Lackey and friends in the City of Heroes game.
You can figure that I was not at all surprised to find a novella about a computer game. It’s one of Lackey’s five big loves: music, horses, hawks, fairy tales, and computer games. She has a way of turning the old tales and tropes into new and enjoyable novels, but as a longtime reader I do make note of her favorite subjects and where they crop up. Should I have put magic on the list of loves? I left it off because the woman writes fantasy and I feel like magic is the suspension of disbelief in most of her stories. IE, it goes without saying.
Amazon says I’ll have my graphic novel on Wednesday, so now I’ll go find something to occupy me for a day and a half, if I can time it right.