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Upland Outlaws

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The power-mad dwarf-sorcerer Zinixo had driven Emshandar V from his throne. He had shattered the ancient Protocol that kept tenuous peace among Pandemia's warlocks. And his conquest had only begun. Somehow the deposed Imperor had escaped his clutches -- so far -- but Shandie would soon be found. Then the Impire would be Zinixo's alone. Outlying countries would fall beneath The power-mad dwarf-sorcerer Zinixo had driven Emshandar V from his throne. He had shattered the ancient Protocol that kept tenuous peace among Pandemia's warlocks. And his conquest had only begun. Somehow the deposed Imperor had escaped his clutches -- so far -- but Shandie would soon be found. Then the Impire would be Zinixo's alone. Outlying countries would fall beneath his fist. And at long last, he could wreak fabulous revenge upon Rap of Krasnegar. For Zinixo wielded the greatest magic ever imagined: an army of slave-sorcerers bound to serve his every whim -- to the death. No one could stop him: Shandie had scarcely an ally in the world; Rap's magical powers were a shadow of their former strength; and there was hardly a free sorcerer to be found in all Pandemia. Where could any resistance effort find even...A Handful of Men?


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The power-mad dwarf-sorcerer Zinixo had driven Emshandar V from his throne. He had shattered the ancient Protocol that kept tenuous peace among Pandemia's warlocks. And his conquest had only begun. Somehow the deposed Imperor had escaped his clutches -- so far -- but Shandie would soon be found. Then the Impire would be Zinixo's alone. Outlying countries would fall beneath The power-mad dwarf-sorcerer Zinixo had driven Emshandar V from his throne. He had shattered the ancient Protocol that kept tenuous peace among Pandemia's warlocks. And his conquest had only begun. Somehow the deposed Imperor had escaped his clutches -- so far -- but Shandie would soon be found. Then the Impire would be Zinixo's alone. Outlying countries would fall beneath his fist. And at long last, he could wreak fabulous revenge upon Rap of Krasnegar. For Zinixo wielded the greatest magic ever imagined: an army of slave-sorcerers bound to serve his every whim -- to the death. No one could stop him: Shandie had scarcely an ally in the world; Rap's magical powers were a shadow of their former strength; and there was hardly a free sorcerer to be found in all Pandemia. Where could any resistance effort find even...A Handful of Men?

30 review for Upland Outlaws

  1. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    For millenia, the peace of the continent of Pandemia has been upheld by a Protocol restricting the use of powerful magic, a covenant controlled by the four most powerful sorcerers in the realm and by the emperor of Imps in the aptly named capital city of Hub (the sorcerors have dominion over the East, North, West and South of Pandemia). As the third millenium is coming to a close, the Protocol is broken (see book one The Cutting Edge ) by a renegade sorcerer named Zinixo - your regular evil ma For millenia, the peace of the continent of Pandemia has been upheld by a Protocol restricting the use of powerful magic, a covenant controlled by the four most powerful sorcerers in the realm and by the emperor of Imps in the aptly named capital city of Hub (the sorcerors have dominion over the East, North, West and South of Pandemia). As the third millenium is coming to a close, the Protocol is broken (see book one The Cutting Edge ) by a renegade sorcerer named Zinixo - your regular evil mastermind who for once succeeds in his plans with the help of an army of zombified magicians known as the Covin. Only a handful of men (and women) survive the cataclysm, and now have the unenviable task of bringing the tyrant down. Master Rap, the half-jotunn, half-faun proverbial stableboy turned hero from the original series ( A Man of His Word ) sums up the situation in a colourful way: If you want a picture, it's more like a houseful of mice planning to mob the cat. Still, the heroing business requires our handful of men (and women) to at least give it as try. We know from numerous epic fantasies and from sir Terry Pratchett that impossible odds are 100 percent sure to come true. Another outlaw, the beautiful princess in exile Eshiala, hits the nail right on the head: A just cause is a nobler purpose than mere survival So, the first order of business for the revolution is to define the noble cause Rap and his friends will use to rally the troops around their flag. We had a glimpse about the root issue in the first volume and it is spelled even more clearly now : Zinixo came to power by misusing Power, so what we need now is the Pandemia equivalent of the Magna Carta, a new Protocol, a new Bill of Rights that will restrain the abuses of magic and put in the checks and balances that will prevent the rise of another Zinixo for at least another millenia. To compel loyalty with power was Zinixo's evil game; the good guys must not use magic for immoral purposes, however great the temptation. This impossible idealism was the heart of the new protocol. In one of the most isolated and secret realms of Pandemia, the same ethical questions are played on a much more personal scale as a newly introduced character, the young pixie woman named Thaile, is brought to a magic university against her will, singled out because she has been gifted with a Word of Power. They have brought her here against her will. They expected her cooperation, yet they had coerced her, and tricked her. Could anything demons might do be worse than that? Having read two other major epic series by Duncan, and with half of this one under my belt, I feel confident in dubbing Dave Duncan as "the ethical fantasist" . Questions of good and evil and judging actions by their consequences abound in many other fantasy epics, but what sets im apart for me from other authors is a certain subtlety of argument and a very engaging way of putting the reader right in the middle of the hero's dillema : Is magic a tool of destruction, an irresistible temptation to amass Power? Or can it be brought under control and put to good use? Judging the book only by its synopsis, nothing much apparently happens in this middle-of-the-series episode : Zinixo quietly consolidates his power and the rebels are scattered to the four corners of Pandemia to search for allies. Lots of travelling and character building and little action (at least until the explosive last fifty pages or so). I could even grumble a bit about some very improbable decisions that were more plot driven than credibly taken. (view spoiler)[ like Inosolan taking both her children into the middle of a goblin raid and later meeting the rightful heir of the Impire in the enemy camp (hide spoiler)] . Nevertheless, the journey was a fast paced one for me due to the already established narrative talents of Duncan, his wicked sense of humor and due to my keen interest in the fate of the 'handful' of characters in play. I noticed with other series that use frequent jumps in the POV narrator that I end up looking forward to a return of some and dreading the chapters narrated by other POV's, George R R Martin included. This time, I liked them all, most especially the couple of scoundrels that got drafted into the revolution, like signifer Ylo or thief Thinal. Thaile, one of the most intriguing and enchanting POV's here only comes on scene in the second half of the book. The fun twin heirs of Krasnegar, Gath and Kadie, 'only' have two or three scenes. And so on ... What I'm trying to say here is that I wouldn't have minded if the book was twice as long and offered me a chance to spend more time in such good company. It's high praise from a reader who gave up on a couple of very good doorstopper epics because I felt the authors were rambling / padding their stories with unnecessary details ("Wheel of Fortune" is probably the best example of a series I would like to finish one of these days). Luckily for me, I have the next episode already on my book reader.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kyra

    I swear to God that nearly 50% of this book is all exposition. Also, Thaïle doesn't even appear in the book until over 50% in. And yet somehow I still manage to enjoy the hell out of it. Since I don't know where my copy of The Cutting Edge went, I'm glad that at least I do have my copy of the book where they explain Zinixo's conspiracy. I repeat that I absolutely adore the fact that Dave Duncan wrote this series because he had Rap do something really morally justifiable in Emperor and Clown and t I swear to God that nearly 50% of this book is all exposition. Also, Thaïle doesn't even appear in the book until over 50% in. And yet somehow I still manage to enjoy the hell out of it. Since I don't know where my copy of The Cutting Edge went, I'm glad that at least I do have my copy of the book where they explain Zinixo's conspiracy. I repeat that I absolutely adore the fact that Dave Duncan wrote this series because he had Rap do something really morally justifiable in Emperor and Clown and then realized it would completely destroy the world's economy so that another series was necessary. Oh, Dave Duncan heroes. The ones in this series are generally more likable than Rap was in the first series, though. My suspicion about Dave Duncan is that he really enjoys writing about terrible screwed-up societies and fully understands how they get that way, but is worried that people won't like the books if he just writes about characters who are inured to how terrible their societies are.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cal

    Being the 2nd of 4 (or the 6th of 8), the narrative is left with everybody falling off a cliff and hoping that a miraculous parachute will save them. Well written. Slower paced - especially when dealing with the pixies. The edition of the book that I purchased did not a have a "map" of Pandemia included (a map would help those who had not read the previous 4 books). As in the other editions, the editing was very poor - many typos. Didn't really detract from the story. Characterizations were very Being the 2nd of 4 (or the 6th of 8), the narrative is left with everybody falling off a cliff and hoping that a miraculous parachute will save them. Well written. Slower paced - especially when dealing with the pixies. The edition of the book that I purchased did not a have a "map" of Pandemia included (a map would help those who had not read the previous 4 books). As in the other editions, the editing was very poor - many typos. Didn't really detract from the story. Characterizations were very well done - including Eigaze and her never-ending store of chocolates!

  4. 5 out of 5

    BRT

    As always, Dave Duncan delights with an engrossing story. The second in the series, our group of heros is split as they strive to survive the magical take over of the Empire. Each group rides headlong into danger with goblins, sorcerers, and evil humans. Definitely not wanting to reach the end of each book but delving into the next helps with withdrawal symptoms.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pawel Olas

    I started to read this book just after i finished „the cutting edge”. My biggest problem at the time was that the first chapters just repeated the story from the previous book trying to dump as much information as possible in the quickest form. Fair enough. It was boring but is usually necessary to remind the reader of what happened. I decided to give the book a rest and come back to it much later (in this case two years later). On a second read I had no clue what was going on. What is an "imp" I started to read this book just after i finished „the cutting edge”. My biggest problem at the time was that the first chapters just repeated the story from the previous book trying to dump as much information as possible in the quickest form. Fair enough. It was boring but is usually necessary to remind the reader of what happened. I decided to give the book a rest and come back to it much later (in this case two years later). On a second read I had no clue what was going on. What is an "imp" or a "signifier"? Who are all those people that weren't introduced? This sequel not only continues a story from the previous book but also ties to an entire other series which the author assumes I remember well. Unfortunately this is not the case. I pity as apparently I really liked the previous series. Again I'm finding this book unreadable and giving up.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sean Helms

    A good followup to 'Cutting Edge' as it continues the story of Shandie seeking to win back his throne and the adventures of his allies. The characters remain top-notch along with all the writing. The story will continue through two more books, which unfortunately I'll have to purchase before I have the pleasure of reading them!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scott Pare

    It was a chore to finish. SO boring. Hoping the next two books pick up.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sbuchler

    Genre: High Fantasy This is the second book in the _A Handful of Men_ series, it continues where the last one left off (actually it continues slightly before that - re-telling the last scene of the first book from a different perspective; slightly repetitive, but interesting :-) ). Surprisingly, given the structure of the prequel series, this book (like _The Cutting Edge_ before it) is still mostly set-up. Stuff starts happening, but not at nearly the rate I was expecting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    Fabulous instalment in the series. Things get steadily worse for the heroes, and minor victories seem to only set them up for a bigger fall by the end of the book. Excellent read, diving straight into the next!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sean Randall

    The pieces are falling into place and yet I can't see precisely where everything will end up. Every mid-series book by this man is damn good indeed, though; and this is no exception. halfway there!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ron Judenberg

    read

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maddy S

    This is an awesome series!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fredrick Nicholson

    Liking this follow up to the first series much better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Graham

    As expected with the second book, things keep getting worse for all concerned. Moves along nicely.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve Markham

    Another fantastic read from the master!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Olivier Arsac

  17. 4 out of 5

    Squeekmouse

  18. 5 out of 5

    Simon M. Phillips

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anouk

  20. 4 out of 5

    James Hardie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joachim Baumann

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Pinder

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kurosh Hormozian

  24. 5 out of 5

    Saskia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Darrell Mcfarland

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anita

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dericka

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jim Saunders

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