by Doranna Durgin
Sequel to Dun Lady\’s Jess and Changespell. Something terrifying is happening in Camolen- magic gets warped in random places, destroying anything it touches. A group of prominent wizards goes to investigate- and the only known survivor of the encounter is a palomino horse. What infrastructure the magic world has starts to crumble; at first people don\’t know anything has happened, then widespread panic begins. Jess and her companions get heavily involved- Carey and the others decide their only chance to find out what happened is to turn the palomino into a person, and question him. Jess is upset by this idea- and only goes along with it because she can help the horse make the transition- finding suddenly that she relates to him far better than she ever did to Carey. She deliberately spends long periods of time in horse form later in the book- in part embittered by her recent human experiences, her trust shaken, her difficulties in understanding the human world exacerbated by current issues. There was a lot in here about how the magic worked, how different factions tried to control it, and even how new innovations and greed suddenly affected the environment in ways that threatened everyone. I found all the ideas very interesting- but getting through the middle of the book was something of a slog. The characters were still not very well drawn for me; the only ones I got a strong sense of were Jess and the palomino man- but in spite of his (unwilling) role in the heightened events, he didn\’t get a lot of page time which disappointed me. I found that when some of the longstanding characters struggled with loyalties, frustrations and even debilitating injuries I just did not care that much, did not get a real sense of them as people, and read impatiently for the story to get back to Jess and the palomino. Oh well. The ending was pretty good- and left enough intriguing openings for another sequel- if the author ever writes one I\’ll look for it.
Rating: 3/5 429 pages, 2002