Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review: Foundation for the Lost

Foundation for the Lost
Foundation for the Lost by Scott Rhine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult (PG-rated according to the author)

Disclosure: I picked up a copy of this book for myself, so am under no particular obligation, but am happy to provide an honest review.

Synopsis: No good deed goes unpunished. A Kabbalah magician, Aaron Walker has devoted the last hundred years of his life to his Foundation, a charity that helps widows, orphans, and the stranger in the land. It doesn't get much stranger than the Lost: male witches who don't have parents to train them in the arts. Now, corporate wizards are trying to kill him, and he has no idea why.

With a handful of former students, he hops from one hidden enclave of cultural magic to another, hoping to survive long enough to contact the witches of New Salem. But the assassins don't scare Aaron as much as the price the witch Rose demands for her aid--to father a child. To keep his magic and save the world, he must remain a virgin. Merodak, the demon, offers a way out but he’s a pathological liar with a twisted sense of humor.

An urban fantasy that starts like a hardboiled detective novel and continues with non-stop action. Readers on authonomy said they could hear each character's unique voice.

My Thoughts: I’ve edited several books for Scott Rhine, so I’m familiar with his style and have liked everything I’ve read by him. This is the first of his books I’m reading that I did not have much of a hand in (I did do a ‘test edit’ for Scott of the first few chapters, but that was just to show him how I worked), and I was excited to read it, especially since he states that this is one of his favorites. I recalled quite liking the beginning, the part I had read, and had been looking forward to finding out what happened next.

I can see why Rhine describes this one as a favorite – there are just so many laugh-out-loud moments I can’t even count them. I undoubtedly burned a lot of my Kindle’s batteries sharing quotes. It is also very intricate, especially the game in which Aaron is an unwitting part, an ancient form of chess. New Salem was interesting – consisting mainly of women and run as a matriarchy, but still with all the sorts of politics you would expect from a place run by men.

Rhine tucks in to some controversial topics, including Judaic laws, the Holocaust, the rewriting of the Bible by King James – but does so in such a way as to keep the reader interested. The book is obviously very well-researched. I became fascinated with the idea of Crash’s music being prophetic and how a certain song could relate to a person’s life; it’s too bad that there is no such album! I really enjoyed many of the characters: Eion, Millicent and Kickaha were minor characters, but ones that I particularly enjoyed.

The only thing that really bothered me was how Rose kept wanting to “talk about things” during moments of intense danger. This didn’t fit in with her personality – just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be aware of the need to maintain concentration during combat missions, and I highly doubt she would risk the entire operation by forcing others into discussions that would distract them and make them uncomfortable.

Overall, this is a terrific urban fantasy, and I would love to see a sequel that addresses the many unfinished threads of this story (not to say that the story itself doesn’t wrap up quite nicely, just that I can see many possibilities for a sequel or two to this great story). I think fans of gaming will enjoy this, especially if they are aware that many of these characters came from game characters played by Rhine and his friends and family; I think many fans of urban fantasy and fantasy adventure will also enjoy this as a well-written story with a great adventure element. Highly recommended!

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