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Once again, I probably would not have thought this was “my kind of book” but I have a personal affection for opals. They are not my birth stone, but I am very drawn to them and my husband has given me a ring which I have worn constantly for over 35 years. My penchant for these beautiful stones, along with the richness displayed on the cover drew me to this book like a magnet!

Preston Black lives in Greenwich village. He is a smart, hip, slightly irreverent young man who paid his way through college selling advertising and he was good at it. He has studied Political Science at NU and has a diploma to show for it. But while most of his fellow students are flipping burgers and waiting tables to survive, he has fallen back on his skill for selling advertising and given himself the lifestyle he has; a nice pad, a nice car and a life straight out of Bachelor’s Weekly. The problem is, in spite of his success, he is bored and lonely.

He often goes to the one place in the world he enjoys more than any other–The Old Peculier Pub. One evening fate intervenes; he meets Tamantha McKinley and is bowled over by her beauty. Itching to find a way to get her attention, he spies something that has slipped out of her backpack. He nimbly slips over and picks it up. He notices that it is a little strange looking amulet of some kind, but when he gives it to her, she is overwhelmed with gratitude.

He discovers she is studying runes. She is a wizard in training, taking a doctorate level degree, dedicated to the study of wizardry and magic. Who could have imagined that such a course existed? Not Preston Black, but he has fallen for her completely; is totally smitten!

He goes to the library to study up on rune stones and talismans. He doesn’t believe in this stuff; it’s just a bid to get Tammy’s attention. But despite his real intentions, he finds himself fascinated and intrigued by it.

His fascination with Tammy takes him into places that he’d never believed could exist; or could they? She shows him a world of beings straight out of every fantasy novel he had read; academic wizards, vampires, arch druids, faeries, witches, sorcerers, dyads and trolls, dwarves, elves, werewolves and pixies.
He is vetted by a few wizard professors. They are looking for an unbiased, neutral person to run a store that would to cater to the needs of every group of magical beings in North America. They offer him the possibility of being wealthy beyond his dreams; the kind of an offer that comes only once in a lifetime,if at all.

He accepts the offer and sets up shop in Hell’s Kitchen. In no time he is selling things he’d never dreamed of, behind the facade of an ordinary pawnshop. The new awning over the front window is jet black, with `Black’s Gift Shop’ in large gold letters centered on it. Underneath the title, in smaller, less prominent lettering is written `Purveyors of Fine Magical Items and Accessories’.

Shortly after he is in business he is approached by the senior representative of the Spanish Vampire Court in Madrid and commissioned to find a gem; a very famous Opal that goes by the name Orphanus. It has magical properties that it is believed will save the Spanish Vampires who are dying off . This opal had been obtained by Emperor Otto the Great somewhere around the middle of the 10th century. He had purchased it to be the centerpiece in the crown he had made to symbolize his status as Holly Roman Emperor. It had remained there for 500 years,and then suddenly it disappeared from record and the crown. Many had searched for it, none had found it.

Preston Black accepts the challenge. He and Tamantha (Tammy) McKinley, who are lovers by now, go in search of the opal. Tammy is the magic, Preston is the muscle. Together they are an incredible team.

This tale travels from New York to Vienna to Instanbul, to Bucharest Romania, and into the Transylvanian Alps, to Frankfurt, Germany and Hungary and back again. The book is full of adventure, danger and intrigue; as well as the unusual magical things: teleporting, spells, sorcerers, demons and nasty booby traps, vampires, people summoned from the past.

For me The Emperor’s Opal was a wonderful read. It is a book based on the magical mythical things we read about in “other books”; blatant fantasy, as well as horror stories. But God help me–as I read it I became so involved I found myself beginning to believe it. It is so descriptive, so rich with historical references, has so many mentions of times and places and famous and infamous people in the long ago; it was wonderful.

I confess, I went on the internet and did some research to see how much reality there was in some of the descriptions given. And time and time again the facts about times and places were verified; right down to the mention of an opal, known as the Orphanus which was put into the crown of a Holy Roman Emperor! (http://www.jjkent.com/articles/history-folklore-opals.htm

Of course it’s all just fiction–isn’t it? In the world I live in–well it has to be fiction. But I’ve been wrong before! And,I make it a practice to never close my mind completely–never say never! Maybe the jury is still out!

You can follow Christopher Morgan at http://www.blacks-magic.com/

My toast to you! Your in for a fast paced ride!