Chapter One contains a recap of events from book one, ‘An Unexpected Apprentice’, so you don’t need to have read it to find out what is going on.
In ‘A Forthcoming Wizard’, Tildi reclaims the Great Book from thief Nemeth, who now lies dead. Before Tildi and her travelling companions have had a chance to rest up and make plans for the returning journey, they are ambushed by Abbess Sharhava and her acolytes of the Scholardom, warrior monks whose sole purpose is to guard the Great Book. She demands that Tildi hand over the Great Book, believing it to be the rightful property of herself and the Scholardom. Sharhava wants to study the runes and transform all the creatures back to their rightful form. In her mind, there can be only humans and animals. Not the wide diversity of life-forms that the Shining Ones have created. This would mean no centaurs, dwarves, trolls or small folk like Tildi and her people.
Fortunately, Sharhava finds out the hard way that only Tildi can touch the Great Book without being gravely injured by its burning touch. The arrival of Sharhava and her warrior knights has occurred only moments after Edynn sacrificed herself to rid them of the stone giants that Tildi and her companions had been desperately fighting with in a losing battle. This means that Serafina, Edynn’s daughter, far too tired and grief-stricken to put up a fight or even to argue with Sharhava. A woman who is not only used to ruling by force of will, she has them greatly outnumbered by force of arms.
At first, none of Tildi’s companions realise how blinded to her role is Sharhava. Slowly, along the trail, their eyes begin to open to the dangers inherent in Tildi being trapped in one of the Scholardom’s lodges. As the journey progresses and events play out, they slowly change from escorted, honoured ‘guests’ to restrained and very reluctant prisoners of the knights under Sharhava’s control.
We also begin to learn more about Kremet, the other one that is seeking the Great Book. He is one of the original Shining Ones and still alive a millennia later. The Thriaks that had so terrorised Tildi’s people, his own creation, sent out to collect anyone that came into contact with the Great Book or a copy of it, as did her parents and her brothers..
Tildi and her travelling companions are all people I know and have travelled with from book one, ‘An Unexpected Apprentice’. Here we continue our journey with them. I ‘see’ their landscape through their eyes, feel their frustrations at the situation they have been forced into by Sharhava. A very engrossing page-turner. I enjoyed reading the dialogue, the characterisation and there were no plotting problems or things that jarred like a sore thumb. It all flowed quite logically and realistically, with all the sub-plots progressing smoothly to their conclusions. The events and how they unravel make perfect sense. The people act in-character and the plotting is well-paced, mystery, threat, resolution, a lot of travelling and a large cast of characters,
You will have to read the book to find out how all these issues are dealt with. Though I can assure you it will be well worth the time spent doing so, as I found it hard to put down. A thumping good read!!
(pub: TOR/Forge. 430 page hardback. Price: $27.95 (US), $30.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1434-5)
check out website: www.tor-forge.com