By Lawrence Watt-Evans

Tor, 336 pages

-Political Intrigue Abounds-

After his riot-sparking speech fails to save his lover’s sister from death, Anrel Murau travels to the city of Lume in the hopes of starting a new life. Unfortunately, the capital city proves no safe haven for the young fugitive. Famine, sorcery, and imperial mismanagement have brought all of Walasia to the brink of destruction, and even Lume is not exempt from the growing tensions. Now Anrel must rise through a churning pool of thieves, foreign spies, angry mobs, and corrupt sorcerers, to become a national hero before the whole country descends into chaos.

The sequel to A Young Man Without Magic, Above His Proper Station promises swashbuckling and high adventure, but delivers little action. The political parts of the story are very interesting as Watt-Evans has developed a believable and fascinating political system. But although the turmoil engulfing Walasia should also be exciting, the central characters are too bland for their problems to be compelling. Anrel gets in and out of most predicaments simply by remaining alive, the supporting characters go along with whatever Anrel finds himself doing, and the entire story ends up being too mellow to develop real suspense. A good rainy-day read, but not a page turner.

Elizabeth Goss