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Review: Dangerous Gifts / Author: Gaie Sebold / Publisher: Solaris Books / Release Date: Now

Extra-dimensional heroine Babylon Steel has returned. The brothel-owning, sword-swinging, former divine being is the main character of Dangerous Gifts, the sequel to Sebold’s striking and action packed fantasy debut, Babylon Steel, and this new book possesses the same sense of fun and action as the first. This time around, she’s taking responsibility for and looking after a young lady whose very existence is a beacon of hope to some and a political nightmare to others.

Sebold delivers a very original and cleverly worked out fantasy setting; not only do we have multiple planes of reality, we also have many layers of meaning and complexity. The various races, species and faiths in this narrative all work on different levels; this is actually a very clever novel disguised as simple pulp fun. All of this is effortlessly handled by the author’s easy-flowing, highly humorous narrative style. In short, you can read as much into the text as you want, and you will find something. Or you can kick back and enjoy the ride. The main character is wise and perceptive, and though she supplies the bulk of the exposition (and there is a lot of it), it never feels forced.

This is a different sort of romp from the first outing. The protagonist has a much tougher time of it and the darker moments are quite dark. However, the sense of humour is still as strong as it was in the first book, and the overall vibe is a positive, life-affirming one. In a genre overrun with gritty dark realism, it’s nice to see a book that is first and foremost about the fun. If you’re a fantasy fan looking for an intelligent read that is also light and entertaining, then you should check it out.

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