In Hydra's Ring, Mark Ellis is once again right on target, providing a gripping combination of rousing action, history, mythology and character analysis, as well as suspenseful intrigue.
The latest entry in the Outlanders series starts with the reintroduction of a minor character from a book published several years ago, who it turns out is far more than what he seemed to be.
The little old Wei Qiang is actually Xuyauan Shi, the immortal Yellow Emperor of China who has lived under different names for thousands of years.
Then we revisit Erica van Sloan, last seen in Children of the Serpent. Her pyramid in Xian, China is under siege by the army of Wei Qiang, and she seeks the aid of the ever-resourceful Cerberus warriors to foil the ruthless Yellow Emperor in his bid to recover the nine hydra rings and the the Kai Bu Xiu, the Armor of Immortality.
Of course, the story isn't that simple, as Kane, Brigid, Grant and Mohandus Lakesh Singh find out when they become embroiled in a conflict that began thousands of years before in ancient China.
Hydra's Ring is another great installment in this masterful, long-running series and it will appeal equally to devoted fans of Outlanders and to s.f. and action-adventure readers.
As usual, Mark Ellis weaves history, legend and lore into the fiction. He excels at describing action scenes, from big military battles to the smaller scale of hand-to-hand combat.
His characters are always colorful and vivid. The humor and humanity he gives the Cerberus warriors makes it easier to accept their larger-than-life heroics.
I've been reading this series for almost ten years and until Mark Ellis stops writing them, I won't stop reading them.
It's hard to review Hydra's Ring because all I can do is repeat what others have said about it. Once I started reading it I could not put it down until it was finished.
It was fast paced, exciting and very surprising. It has high adventure, drama, comedy, excellent character development and a gripping plot.
I especially enjoyed seeing Erica Van Sloan portrayed as being strong and decisive instead of a conniving b***ch. All the characters come off like they have real lives outside of the book .
They're not static. Unlike the fill-in work by Victor Milan, Kane, Brigid, Grant and Lakesh aren't rewritten with their names just tacked onto strangers.
When they're written by their "father", Mark Ellis, I feel like I'm visiting old friends or family.
In this book, we find the Cerberus warriors involved in a war in 23rd century China where they're trapped inside enemy lines, unable to escape unless they reach the Tomb of the Three Sovereigns ahead of Wei Qiang.
All of the Outlanders books by Mark Ellis hold some unexpected twists worked into the action and Hydra's Ring is no exception. There's also a torture-mutilation scene that left me wincing.
Wei Qiang made for a vicious, intelligent villain and in the best Ellis-style, he's not what he seemed to be when he was first introduced several years ago as a minor character.
Another great book in a great series by a great author.