Arthurians, Edwardians and a Human Target: books

BLOODMARKED: The Legendborn Cycle Book Two is Tracy Deonn’s sequel to Legendborn (as noted at the link, I’m a friend of Tracy but this review is sincere) in which protagonist Bree became part of the demon-slaying Legendborn Order consisting of the descendants of Arthur’s knights and the organization that supports them. At the climax Bree discovered that she, rather than love interest Nick, is the rightful descendant of King Arthur (an earlier Scion of Arthur owned Bree’s ancestor and raped her), destined to lead the Order in the looming apocalypse.

As Bloodmarked opens, Bree’s going nuts that her friends in the Order are more or less keeping her on house arrest: if she buys it, the entire Order loses its mojo. Then comes her ascent, marked by taking up Excalibur, but the Order’s administrative arm kidnaps her instead. If they don’t acknowledge the apocalypse is coming, they don’t have to cede power to Bree, plus they can’t accept a former Scion of Arthur was a slave-owning rapist (the one woman on their team quips that’s the one thing in Bree’s story she believes completely). Can Bree escape? Who can she trust? What about Nick, kidnapped by his father in another, unrelated scheme? Can Bree’s ancestors and their rootcraft help her?

Like the first book this is a good ethnogothic novel dealing with racial issues in both text and subtext (Tracy unpacks some of the latter in the afterword). It’s also just plain good, not going where I expected and expanding the world beyond the magic we’ve already seen.

LONDON IN OLD PHOTOGRAPHS: 1987-1914 by Felix Barker is exactly what it sounds like, a visual recollection of the Edwardian age in business, entertainment, slums, mansions, royalty, striking dock workers and more, with text to give it all some perspective. The introduction notes that being able to take such a record was a relatively novel thing, and that Queen Victoria herself was an enthusiastic shutterbug after Kodak made it easy. Nothing deep, but certainly interesting to look at.Len Wein, Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano introduced the Human Target in Action Comics #419 back in 1972. I became a fan from that cool first page above (couldn’t find a color rendition) but I’m still astonished to think how successful that minor back-up feature turned out: two TV series, appearances on Arrow, and four comic-book series. The most recent, THE HUMAN TARGET by Tom King and Greg Smallwood, opens with Chris counting down the 12 days until a deadly poison kills him. During a recent gig impersonating Luthor (that’s Chance’s specialty, impersonating men marked for murder, then doing his best to stay alive and catch the killer), he survived a bullet but downed a poisonous cup of coffee. Can he find the killer and maybe an antidote? Particularly when it appears the murderer might be a member of the Justice League (1980s goofball version)?

I don’t like Tom King’s writing and I’m not betting he’ll stick the landing but this was much more entertaining than most of his work. He also pulls off the difficulty of having a non-super adventurer who operates mostly in his own world interacting with the superheroes. So far, thumbs up.

#SFWApro. Art by Giordano, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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