Editor: Fiona McIntosh
Publisher: Orbit • 592 pages • £7.99
Sling on your veil, step into your bellydancing bikini and shake those hips (girls, you can do the same), cos Fiona McIntosh is pulling out the stops for this third and final volume in Percheron, her Arabian fantasy series.
All the questions are finally answered: will the Galinseans declare war on Percheron? Will the Zar rescue his Queen Ana after her kidnapping by desert marauders? Will Lazar’s sexual dalliance with Ana be discovered by the Zar? Can the demon, hiding in the Grand Vizier’s body, murder the Goddess Lyana or will she get him first?
Influenced by The Arabian Nights, this series also has its fair share of illicit sex, manipulative females, and vicious demons, although McIntosh’s tale is told less for the “moral lesson” quality of the original 1001 Nights and more for the sheer thrill of heroic deeds and adventure in exotic lands.
The author may insist that she writes purely for these thrills, but serious underlying themes are still embedded throughout Percheron. The main subtext focuses on the harsh consequences of doing “the right thing”: how actions that seem detrimental will actually produce huge positive kickbacks; and how the suffering and sacrifice you personally experience right now will achieve long term goals for the good of the many.
Both these messages and the entertainment are delivered slightly unevenly across the trilogy, with book two’s lack of revelation in stark contrast to this final volume’s continual barrage of shocks. But McIntosh’s plotting generates a genuine hunger to discover what happens to Percheron, so sacrificing your pennies now will pay you back with several hours of enjoyment.