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Peter S. Beagle, Subterranean (, $35 (104p) ISBN 978-1-59606-309-9

Beagle's novella, set in the world of 1991's The Innkeeper's Song, is an intimate take on the relatively common fantasy conceit of a powerful band of recluses. Following an encounter with three assassins, the wanderer Soukyan decides it is time to return to the monastery from which he had long ago escaped and take revenge on those who sent the killers. Beagle hints that Soukyan's world stretches far and wide but mostly focuses on a small area where various organizations have institutionalized murder and torture. Thoughtful, well-rounded characters make an intriguing contrast to scenes of bloody brutality. Readers familiar with The Innkeeper's Song will love this tie-in, while newcomers will both enjoy the tight focus and find plenty of incentive to seek out related works that further explore this complex, fully realized setting. (Oct.)