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Ogre Castle
Book One of the After the Spell Wars series

by Robert E. Vardeman


Originally printed under the pseudonym F.J. Hale, Ogre Castle and its companion, In the Sea Nymph's Lair, were printed in the late 80s. But the vagaries of publishing in the last few decades delayed the release of the final volume, The Wizard's Spell Mirror. The author, Robert E. Vardeman, went on to write a wealth of science fiction and fantasy works, including The Cenotaph Road series, Weapons of Chaos series, and the Masters of Space series, as well as two original Star Trek novels, The Klingon Gambit and Mutiny on the Enterprise. Vardeman also has a Peter Thorne mystery series, the Karl Lassiter western series, and numerous works of short fiction, including his own collection called Stories from Desert Bob's Reptile Ranch. Needless to say, Vardeman is not only prolific but a legend in several distinct genres.

Zumaya Publications picked up Vardeman's Star Frontier series last year and printed Alien Death Fleet (also reviewed on Myshelf) and will have the second book out later this year. They also breathed life into Vardeman's After the Spell Wars series of which Ogre Castle is the first installment.

The After the Spell Wars series deals with the inhabitants of the Plenn Archipelagos who are dealing with the ghostly remnants of the devastating Spell Wars, where magician was pitted against magician. The kingdom of Loke-Bor is especially besieged because of the fierce animosity between Lord Zoranto and the powerful wizard Rahman'dur, who had reportedly destroyed each other. When Zoranto's successor, Lord Northdell, is summoned from exile to take the throne, the young lord is practically driven mad by ethereal phantoms who can cause great harm in the real world but who cannot be killed with ordinary weapons.

It is thus the task of itinerant wizard Durrril and his young apprentice Arpad Zen to vanquish these vestiges of the long ago Spell Wars. Ordinarily, that would occupy these two sorcerers with minor wizardly duties for a few days. Unfortunately, what they find at Lord Northdell's castle aren't ancient magical leftovers but newly-cast monsters, including a giant ogre who whisks away Lord Northdell's beautiful bride-to-be. As Durril and Zen attempt the young woman's rescue, Lord Northdell pulls together a ragtag army to invade the Valley of Ultimate Demise, Rahman'dur's former stronghold. Both attempts are fraught with disaster and lead both groups face to face with a very much alive Rahman'dur, who has only gotten stronger since the Spell Wars' end.

Without a doubt, Vardeman can write an exciting page-turner! Like his Alien Death Fleet, there is one danger and clever narrow escape after another, calling on more creative skills his protagonist, Master Durril, and his student, must begin to pull from deep within themselves, facing inner demons as well as outer ones. And Lord Northdell learns more than he cares to about ogres.

Ogre Castle is a great read and one that fantasy lovers will thoroughly enjoy. I myself can't wait until In the Sea Nymph's Lair is available so that I can return to the Plenn Archipelagos and see what else awaits after the Spell Wars.

The Book

Zumaya Otherworlds
March 2, 2009
193484134X / 978-1934841341
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The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Janie Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!and co-author of The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book.
© 2009