Thursday, April 13, 2006

Review: _Lady of the Trillium_ by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Several years ago three prominent Fantasy authors collaborated on a novel.Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Julian May wrote Black Trillium.It was the story of triplet princesses saving their world from a dangeroussorcerer. Later, each author wrote stand alone books in the same world tellingthe further stories of their characters. Lady of the Trillium by MarionZimmer Bradley is the story of Haramis the Archimage and her apprentice.Interesting characters, a descriptive setting and a fast moving plot makethe book an entertaining read.

First, the books’s interesting charactersdraws readers into the story. Mikayla is a younger daughter of a large royalfamily. She is mostly ignored and forgotten by her family with only her friendFiolon as a companion. Interested in technology, she has an insatiable penchantfor getting into trouble. Haramis is the two hundred year old Archimage ofRuwenda, needing to choose her successor. She is stubborn and strong wiled,but wants Mikayla to learn magic to be prepared before she takes over herduties. The two women clash on many levels that gives the story conflict.Other characters help these women grow throughout the story. Fiolon is Mikayla’sfriend and conscience. The harp Uzun is the long time advisor and friendof Haramis. Ms. Bradley creates sympathetic characters that readers can likeand follow through the story.

Next, the descriptive setting of thebook brings the book to life. Ruwenda is a land of swamps and snowy mountains.There are diverse creatures such as giant intelligent lammergier birds andthe different intelligent beings that inhabit the marshes. The magic of theland is tied into one person. An archimage senses how the land of Ruwendafairs in order to act to protect it. Ms. Bradley’s writing style presentsthe setting in a vivid clear prose.

Finally it is the fast movingplot keeps the book entertaining for readers. Haramis is frightened by adream to choose her successor for the new Archimage. She picks Mikayla andtakes her unwilling to her tower in the snowy mountains of the north. Mikayladoes not not want to be a mage. Their relationship becomes one of a testof wills. As the years pass, Mikayla experiences several events that changeher while Haramis has problems. When a crisis looms, both women must makechoices in order to save Ruwenda. The author is an expert in melding severalplot threads into an exciting whole.

Lady of the Trillium byMarion Zimmer Bradley is an entertaining book about the coming-of-age ofa young mage. The interesting characters, descriptive setting and a fastmoving plot keeps readers hooked into the book until the end. Ms. Bradleyadded an interesting story to the loosely connected Trillium series begun by three masters of the Fantasy genre.

Monday, April 10, 2006

_Crossroads_ edited by Mercedes Lackey

Crossroads are places of change where decisions are made that can change courses of people’s lives. Mercedes Lackey presents many stories of change in the anthology she edited called Crossroads & Other Tales of Valdemar. This is the third anthology set in Lackey’s world of Valdemar with its Heralds and Companions. Various authors explore different parts of Valdemar with entertaining stories that readers will enjoy.

The anthology opens with “Transmutation” by Larry Dixon. This is the story of people trying to save a gryphon. With a revolt causing war in Valdemar, Kelvren the gryphon is wounded. Housed with a fatally wounded soldier, Kelvren uses all his magic to save the human, which leaves him dying. A young boy and various other characters try to save his life by restoring his magic. Mr. Dixon creates an entertaining story with strong characters and an engaging plot.

“Death in Keenspur House” by Richard Lee Byers is a mystery fantasy. Selden is called to the house of Lord Baltes Keenspur to solve a murder. A guard is killed prior to a wedding and Selden tries to solve who did the crime. The house mage Tregan states that magic was not involved. Selden treads a fine line in a city filled with feuding factions that would end with the marriage of rival houses. The author weaves together an intriguing story of magic and action that readers can enjoy.

Fiona Patton explores the story of the last survivors of a hunter clan. “The Blue Coat” tells the story of Treyill. He is a shaman and must learn to accept his powers to save his brother, cousin and people form bandits. Treyill must interpret his shamanic dreams though he fears his power. This is an interesting story story brought to life by a talented author.

“Finding Elvida” by Mickey Zucker Reichert is a Herald story. IT begins with young Elvida and her two friends attacked by a small army of attackers. Elvida is left alone to defend a fallen Herald and her own Companion. She does not know what her powers are to save her friends and must struggle against great odds. Ms. Reichert provides readers with an appealing story of adventure.

Ms. Lackey gives fans a new Tarma and Kethry story with “Landscape of the Imagination.” The companions must leave a boring kingdom full of laws to help a woman in need in the wilderness. In the dangerous forest, they come across the sorceress Nanca. She hires them for help with a contest she has against a rival colleague. Readers will like the new story of these popular characters of Valdemar.

Crossroads & Other Tales of Valdemar edited by Mercedes Lackey is a new anthology set in her world of Valdemar. Many authors contribute stories about different parts of Lackey’s world. The stories are entertaining with interesting characters and plots. Readers will find many stories to enjoy in this anthology.