A Rose-Red City
Dave Duncan

The city of Mera is a fortress hidden from the rest of humanity, a sanctuary for the diverse group of people rescued from death by the Oracle that rules the city. The Oracle has brought together the citizens of Mera from every land and every time period, protecting them from the ravages of time, death and the evil demon forces that howl outside the city at night. All that the Oracle asks in return is a willingness to aid the rest of humanity, calling the citizens to go forth on various missions of rescue to mortals in need of aid. The Oracle sends Jerry out into the wilderness, accompanied by his ancient Greek friend, Killer, a world-famous lecher and juvenile delinquent with deadly combat skills. There they must rescue a woman named Ariadne, on the run with her children and seeking shelter. But children are not allowed in Mera, and Ariadne will not leave them, while Mera’s evil demon enemies move closer and closer to Jerry’s and Killer’s temporary place of respite.

A Rose-Red City book cover

“their tension was obvious. They didn’t know coyotes and they didn’t know which side of the border they were on and they could heal teeth?”

This is a brilliant little debut, for I do believe it to be Duncan’s first publication. It’s quite interesting that he returned to a similar motif with King of Sords in 2013, though I enjoyed this one more.

The whole night huddled in the cottage was electrifying, those three chapters before the huge demonic intrusion were deliciously tense, and the twelfth, in the maze, was also gripping stuff. Honestly, if you’re a Duncan fan there’s a lot here for you and, although some of his fantastic tropes develop later on, this is a very respectable entry in his catalogue.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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