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The Juilliard School
Eric Banyon, a student at Juilliard, has his hands full dealing with a visiting Healer, a banjo-play...
Eric Banyon, a student at Juilliard, has his hands full dealing with a visiting Healer, a banjo-playing Bard, his daughter, a dragon, and school, but now he has to save the world from Aerune mac Audel ... ISBN: 0743436083
Well, the story starts off very simply, with busker Eric Banyon, a mainstay of the L.A. Elizabethan Faire, getting dumped by his then-girlfriend, Maureen, in a very loud, very public, -very- embarrassing manner.Finding a quiet corner off in the woods, he begins to play his flute."Brian Boru.""Sheebeg Sheemore."Tunes of loss, betrayal and war, centuries old.And something ... happens.He can't explain exactly what, but his life takes a twist for the strange after that.His cloak and money pouch are stolen, and he's left near the end of his tether, retreating into a drunken funk.Even after he makes it back home to L.A., with the aid of some sympathetic friends, he finds that life is stranger than ever before.For one thing, there's an elf in his apartment.A pointy-eared, cat-eyed, too-beautiful-for-words elf, wearing Eric's best cloak and making himself at home in Eric's apartment.This is Korendil, warrior and mage, one of the High Court, and for long years, he was trapped in the magical Node-Grove, nexus of creative magic, the same one that supports the loval elves, and fuels the creative mecca of Los Angeles and Hollywood.It was Eric's latent talent for musical magic (or magical music) which set him free.It's Eric, a Bard in the making, who can help save the day.For a traitor among the Fae seeks the destruction of the Node-Grove, and the decimation of the elves, and only a Bard has the ability to preserve or create the Nodes.And the only true Bard is, or will be, Eric Banyon, itinerant busker and perpetual screw-up.There I took a cauldron Where boiled ten thousand harlots Though full of flame I drank the same To the health of all such varlets.As Eric struggles with the reality of the situation, he realizes that the stakes are higher than anyone realizes.To lose the Node is to lose the elves, and to lose the very magic of Hollywood itself.But when the only people who can prevent disaster are an untrained busker-Bard, his sometime witch friend, and Korendil, what hope do they have?Especially when arrayed against them are a powerful elven lord, his seductive half-breed daughter, and the hosts of darkness?Let's just say that it gets messy.Before it's over, elves will die, the Node will reach the very brink of being extinguished, love will be found, Eric will abandon his friends to sleep with the enemy, and L.A. will never be the same.Magic and music intertwine, becoming inseparable, and Eric will face some of his greatest fears as he begins the long path towards becoming a true Bard.My staff has murdered giants My bag a long knife carries To cut mince pies from children's thighs For which to feed the fairies.Summoned to Tourney picks up some time later.Eric, his witch-girlfriend Beth, and Korendil (Kory), have fled L.A. in the bloody aftermath of the first book, relocating to San Francisco under assumed identities, since as far as they know, the authorities still want them for questioning.It's a chance to start a new life together, the three of them, and for a while, it looks like all will be quiet and relatively peaceful.They're busking again, they've settled into their new home, and no one's troubling them.The Nodes are safe once more, and things are good.That is, until Eric begins to dream of destruction and doom, of San Francisco's apocalyptic nightmare, and of the enigmatic creatures of shadow and darkness known as Nightflyers.And until Beth is kidnapped by unscrupulous forces seeking to research and control psychic abilities and magic.And until Kory goes missing.Then, suddenly, it's up to Eric and Kayla, the punk Healer-in-training, to find their missing friends and mentor, and save the day.One problem.When Eric summons the Nightflyers, will he control them, or will they control him?No gypsy, slut or doxy Shall win my mad Tom from me I'll weep all night, with stars I'll fight The fray shall well become me.The stakes get higher when Eric realizes the dreadful extent of the errors he's made.Though he's rescued his friends, they're both wounded, in body and spirit, and in no condition to help him rectify his errors.Only Eric can live up to the challenge, and prevent the destruction of San Francisco and the release of the Nightflyers upon Earth, where they'll be free to devour souls and spread their evil.In the end, he'll either master his abilities, or die.Sure, he'll have the aid of a coven of witches and psychics, the support of his friends, the backing of the local elves, but in the end, it's Eric's fate and duty to save the day.I know more than Apollo, For oft when he lies sleeping I see the stars at mortal wars In the wounded welkin weeping.Eric has finished his Bardic training, under the tutelage of a stern elven master, and has returned to the real world after some years.And now he's going back to reclaim part of his life.Back to New York.Back to Juilliard, the site of his greatest failure.Once a student, he fled after a nasty bout of stage fright brought on by his then unknown and uncontrolled magical abilities.He never could look back.Until now.He's older, wiser, mature, in command of his talents, and determined to make something of himself.Supplied with all the magically-created elven gold he needs to finance his education, and with a brand new apartment, everything looks hunky-dory.But as he well knows, it's when things are quietest that they get weirdest.So he's barely fazed when one of the gargoyles from the roof of the building pops in for a chat and some water.Greystone, as he's called, is friendly, literate, and has a taste for movies.So they become friends fairly quickly.Then there's the fact that four of the other residents of the building, Guardian House, are indeed Guardians, the magical protectors who police the boundaries between the mundane world and the supernatural, keeping the worst nightmares from getting out of line.The rest of the building is full of artists, musicians, writers, and creative talents.The moon's my constant mistress, And the lonely owl my marrow; The flaming drake and the night crow make Me music to my sorrow.So Eric's back in school, with friends, responsibilities, and happiness.What's the problem?Is it A) Unethical drug producers, whose latest creation induces amazing powers, before destroying the user, killing almost everyone who tries it?B) Aerune mac Audelaine, the Unseleighe Sidhe who wants to invade Earth and feed off of our suffering?C) The return of Ria Llewellyn, the daughter of one of his greatest enemies, who once seduced and enslaved Eric, or D) All of the above, especially when they meet up in the middle?As the new drug hits the streets, and random street people are kidnapped, Eric and the Guardians and Greystone find themselves caught up in the crisis, separately and together.Ria re-enters Eric's life, but is it as friend, enemy, would-be lover, or something else altogether?The Unseleighe lord has his own plans, which make life all the more difficult.All this, -and- Eric has recitals to practice for, if he ever wants to prove his worth to his taskmaster teachers!No one ever said it was easy to be a Bard in New York.Luckily, he's got friends and his own Bardic magic, and hopefully he'll be able to stop a three-way war between the good guys, the Sidhe, and the drug producers before it gets out of hand.And still manage to figure out where he and Ria stand in regard to one another and a potential relationship...And then that I'll be murdering The Man in the Moon to the powder His staff I'll break, his dog I'll shake And there'll howl no demon louder.Enough of the plot stuff.What do I think?Well, Knight of Ghosts and Shadows is dead-on brilliant, one of the better examples of the urban fantasy genre, and one I'd gladly share with anyone.The characters are all realistic, from commitment-phobe Eric to timelost Korendil to pragmatic Beth.This isn't some book where the hero discovers something weird, and adjusts immediately.It takes Eric a long time to cope with the idea of magic and elves.It takes him longer to get his head out of his ass and actually -do- something.Then he makes mistakes.And pays for them.These are people you can imagine and sympathize with.It's a story about growing up, the hero discovered, and his journey towards claiming his destiny.That of your five sound senses You never be forsaken, Nor wander from your selves with Tom Abroad to beg your bacon.Summoned to Tourney is the next logical step in Eric's journey.Seeing Eric in the full power of his maturity, after floundering so long, is just a welcome relief.The musical scenes are as well-described as ever.The only jarring note might be the odd juxtaposition of psychic powers, elves in New York, and an almost science fiction edge to the bad guys.But in the end, the book overcomes this dichotomy to tell a really good story.I definitely recommend this book, especially if you read the first in the series.With a host of furious fancies, Whereof I am commander, With a burning spear and a horse of air To the wilderness I wa