Title: Forgery of the Phoenix
Author: Michael Angel
Series: Fantasy & Forensics #5
Dayna hasn’t had an easy life since being summoned to Andeluvia, but now things are getting out of hand. The Spring Tournament is coming up, which means burly, boneheaded knights are competing for the right to represent her—and they’re not good at taking “No” for an answer. King Fitzwilliam has assigned her to a knightly order burdened with enough debt to buy a small kingdom. And a phoenix has shown up in the throne room, asking for Dayna’s help particularly to save their species from extinction. Then there’s a new wrinkle in LA regarding her worsening relationship with Bob McClatchy . . .
I love how each one of these books has been picking up a different mythological creature and giving them a lot of depth. Their cultures, physiology, mode of speech, and worldview. Their possible motives for crime. This time around we get phoenixes (who are also criminally underrepresented in fantasy). I love that Dayna keeps tripping over the fact that she’s assuming intelligent beings means thinks like a human. To a phoenix, time, life, and death have much different implications. And I love that to the phoenixes, all other life is basically just sparks.
I also really like the book’s focus on refusing to accept narrow options, and looking for that third choice when an either-or situation pops up. To me this especially comes into play when Dayna finally gets more answers about the ancient war between the Light and the Dark. Which is a variant on “history was written by the winners” as the original sides certainly didn’t label themselves good and evil. And now it makes perfect sense why the sides were basically drawn up at a species level.
Although the title kind of gives away that there is a forgery in play, I think it still works as a mystery because Dayna has to figure out why it matters. The phoenixes certainly only have one concern: themselves. Which is a change for Dayna, because the obvious crimes are being shrugged off by the creatures who should have the most invested in the outcome.
Overall this continues to barrel through things at a spectacular clip, deftly balancing mystery, epic fantasy, and plenty of humor. I rate this book Highly Recommended.