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This is the second book in the fantasy Hypatomancer’s Tale trilogy by Robert Reginald (see my review of the first book in the trilogy, THE CRACKS IN THE AETHER, here). As with the first in the trilogy, this is a relatively light-hearted fantasy adventure, though one with very real stakes for the protagonist, his companions, and his universe.

Some plot spoilers follow, but I promise not to ruin your enjoyment of the story.

This second volume picks up immediately where the first left off: a hypatomancer (a mage with the ability to foretell the future) named Morpheus has given up his sinecure as a court wizard to travel to the Otherworlds and rescue a woman he’s never met. The Otherworlds are a fascinating place: think Stargate’s variety of planets, only they’re reached by magical portals and the inhabitants are a bit stranger. All of the places we see in the Otherworlds are locales where humans, or near-humans, can survive. These aren’t crazy places where the laws of physics work differently (for the most part), but they are inhabited by strange races and cultures. These cultural differences drive a great many of the novels’ plot complications. The problem is that Morpheus has learned that before he can rescue the unknown woman on the far-off world at the other end of the universe, he must repair damage to the universe (the eponymous “cracks in the aether” from the first title in the series). To do this, Morpheus needs to find the Elephant’s four Eggs, powerful magical artifacts of unknown properties, appearance, and origins. He knows only that he needs to make contact with a mysterious alien race called the Pachyderms. And so the journey begins.

As always, Reginald’s dialogue is smooth, natural, fun, and funny. I enjoyed the occasional puns and allusions to a variety of science fiction and fantasy settings and authors – I thought of these as a kind of fun inside jokes for fans. The action and plot flow smoothly and effortlessly from Reginald’s pen.

If you enjoyed THE CRACKS IN THE AETHER, you will certainly enjoy THE PACHYDERMS’ LAMENT! If you’re looking for a fun new fantasy series, then I would suggest starting with THE CRACKS IN THE AETHER.

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Review copyright 2012 J. Andrew Byers