More troll trouble for Sparhawk
DOMES OF FIRE - Book One of The Tamuli , by David Eddings (Grafton, $60): At the conclusion of The Elenium trilogy, church knight Sparhawk married Queen Ehlana and child goddess Asrael blessed their union with a daughter - herself (well, she needed a placeto stay for a while until the older gods got over being angry with her for meddling in human affairs).
The Tamuli brings us the same cast of characters.
This time Sparhawk, his family and friends battle a being who has somehow managed to free the Troll Gods - last seen imprisoned in the Bhelliom - and seems bent on destroying the world.
Eddings' books stand somewhere between J. R. R. Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings and the hilarious goings-on of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
And there lies a problem: Eddings has displayed an occasional flash of genius,but does not seem able to keep up the unrelenting pace of seemingly effortless hilarity that makes Pratchett's fiction fun to read. This makes The Tamuli uneven in patches, although still enjoyable. Shadows in the Watchgate, by Mike Jefferies (Grafton, $69): Taxidermist Ludo Strewth, obsessed by a desire to restore life to his stuffed animals, uses a Hand of Glory - a hand cut from a criminal - to power an ancient spell of resurrection.
American supermodel Tuppence Trilby, falling in love with the Watchgate, a medieval structure converted to a house, is caught in the web of black magic when the insane Strewth decides to add this model of feminine beauty to his collection.
The spell also resurrects stuffed soldiers from a museum, but these are forces for good.
Here, Jefferies' fiction finally shows signs of catching up with the quality of his darkly menacing illustrations. The Elf Queen of Shannara - Book Three of The Heritage of Shannara - by Terry Brooks (Legend, $60): Shannara is a world that is always worth repeat visits.
Books one and two of The Heritage of Shannara, The Scions of Shannara and The Druid of Shannara, introduced three Ohmsford descendants - Wren, Par and Walker Boh - who are summoned by the shade of the Druid, Allanon, to break the power of the oppressive Federation.
This book follows Wren Ohmsford and her guardian Garth in their search for the Elves; their mission is to persuade the Elves to help the rebel cause.
Brooks' works always surpass the simply entertaining by weaving elements within elements: here, the search for the Elves is paralleled by Wren's striving for her part in the grand scheme of destiny, an understanding of self. The Elvenbane, by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey (Grafton, $60): Tolkien's Elves are dignified beings who love everything that lives; Brooks' Elves are also dignified, if flawed; Norton and Lackey's Elves are merely flawed.
Their Elvenlords keep human slaves for their amusement: as fodder in the gladiator's ring, as soldiers to be slaughtered in battles, and as sexual playthings.
But a prophecy - that a halfling child born of a human woman and an Elflord will one day bring about the downfall of the Elves - ensures there is no interbreeding.
Enter the dragons, who can take on any shape, including Elf and human, to upset the status quo by raising a halfling girl.
Readable - but then one of the writers is Andre Norton, the grande dame of fantasy. The Sorcerer's Appendix, by Andrew Harman (Legend, $50): In the kingdom of Rhyngill, the populace is overtaxed into starvation. Firkin, a peasant boy, blames the king fortheir woes, and decides to get rid of the tyrant.
The teaser - which says Firkin's troubles involve ''lemmings, pigeons and heavy earth-moving equipment'' and that it will take a ''pieman, a magician and a knight with a North Country accent'' to solve - promises a treat in the Pratchett mould of hilarious metaphors, and ordinary images given a comic tweak.
But Harman's no Pratchett, and The Sorcerer's Appendix might have been better if he had cut out the laboured jokes and unfunny metaphors. Also available: The Winds of the Wastelands (Part Three), by Antony Swithin (Fontana, $99); The Firstworld Chronicles 2: The Legend of Shadd's Torment, by Philip G. Williamson (Grafton, $60); The Other Sinbad, by Craig Shaw Gardner (Headline, $86); In the Red Lord's Reach, by Phyllis Eisenstein (Grafton, $60); and The Dragon on the Border, by Gordon R. Dickson (Grafton,$72).