Jim Melvin's Triken series evokes a brave, scary world

"Forged in Death: by Jim Melvin; Bell Bridge (260 pages, $14.95), and "Chained by Fear by Jim Melvin; Bell Bridge (262 pages; $14.95)

We have a masterful new fantasy writer on the scene: Jim Melvin's series, "The Death Wizard Chronicles," creates the world of Triken, where the evil, demon-spawned Invictus reigns over a tainted city and plots to take over the world.

Two of six novels have come out so far. "Forged in Death" introduces the desert king Torg, who collects power by venturing through the portals of death with the aid of deep meditation — thus becoming a Death Wizard. Melvin's description of how Torg gets there has at least as much appeal. As our culture becomes enamored of mindfulness meditation, finding a character who has mastered these techniques feels very timely.

Torg faces plenty of challenges, starting with how to escape an enchanted pit — imbued with evil magic — where Invictus has trapped him.

Torg's post-pit adventures carry us into the second novel, "Chained by Fear."

Here we meet Laylah, Invictus' beautiful sister, held captive for decades by lustful Invictus. It's a relief when Laylah finally escapes and the action picks up. She encounters Torg and joins his lively band. But the fate of Triken remains at risk as Torg's small fellowship moves into Book Three. "Shadowed by Demons" will be out by early summer.

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