The Books of the Elements by David Drake (1,2,4)
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Overview: David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the major authors of the military science fiction genre.
Genre: Fiction > Sci-Fi/Fantasy Science Fiction
#1. The Legions of Fire
In this novel of magical menace to the survival of all humanity, David Drake introduces a new fantasy world, Carce, based on Europe during the later Roman Empire.
Far in the north, a group of magicians perform a strange dance on a volcanic island intended to open a gateway for supernatural creatures that will allow them to devastate the whole Earth and destroy all life. Two young men, Corylus and Varus, and two women, Hedia and Alphena, separately pursue the answer to mysterious happenings in Carce, the center of civilization. Through magical voyages in other realities where fantastic creatures, and even gods, help or hinder them, each of them must succeed or the world will end in fire.
#2. Out of the Waters
wealthy Governor Saxa, of the great city of Carce, has generously subsidized a theatrical/religious event. During this elaborate staging of Hercules founding a city on the shores of Lusitania, dark magic turns the panoply into a chilling event. The sky darkens and the waves crash in the flooded arena. A great creature rises from the sea: a huge, tentacled horror on snake legs. It devastates the city, much to the delight of the crowd.
A few in the audience, although not Saxa, understand that this was not mere stagecraft, but something much darker and more dangerous. If all signs are being read right, this illusion could signify a dreadful intrusion of supernatural powers into the real world. Saxa’s son, Varus, has been the conduit for such an event once before. This new novel is as powerful and elaborate as that fantastic theatrical event, a major fantasy for this year.
#4. Air and Darkness
Magic, epic battles, love, and adventure in a classical setting
This intriguing and fantastic adventure is both an independent novel and the gripping conclusion of the Books of the Elements, a four-volume set of fantasies set in Carce, an analog of ancient Rome. Here the stakes are raised from the previous novels in an ultimate conflict between the forces of logic and reason and the forces of magic and the supernatural. During the extraordinary time in which this story is set, the supernatural is dominant. The story is an immensely complex journey of adventure through real and magical places.
Corylus, a soldier, emerges as one of the most compelling heroic figures in contemporary fantasy. Battling magicians, spirits, gods, and forces from supernatural realities, Corylus and his companions from the family of the nobleman Saxa—especially Saxa’s impressive wife Hedia, and his friend (and Saxa’s son) Varus—must face constant deadly and soul-destroying dangers, climaxing in a final battle not between good and evil but in defense of logic and reality.