Monday, July 24, 2006

The Virtu - Sarah Monette


The Virtu
Sarah Monette
Ace Fantasy

Fantasy - Dark Fantasy

NOTE: This novel is the sequel to MELUSINE (pb, 7/06.) If you haven’t read the first book, this review contains plot spoilers.

After being used most cruelly by his former mentor in a casting ritual, wizard Felix Harrowgate lost his position, his magic, and his mind. Branded a heretic and accused of shattering the Virtu, the stone that contains and controls the magic of Melusine, Felix barely escaped the city with this life. As the second novel begins, Felix and his half-brother Mildmay the Fox, a thief, are living in relative safety. Healers and wizards have restored Felix’s sanity. Mildmay is dealing with the aftereffects of a curse that left him crippled.

It doesn’t take long before both brothers realize that it’s time to leave. With his mind and magic in place, Felix believes that it is his duty to return to Melusine and attempt to restore the Virtu. As Mildmay plots a course back to the city, he realizes that Felix will be lucky not to be arrested and burned as a heretic the instant he enters the city. The journey back to the city is long, and along the way, the two brothers pick up some interesting traveling companions. Even Felix doesn’t realize that one last, possibly insurmountable obstacle awaits him in Melusine: his former mentor, Malkar.

If MELUSINE was the journey “there,” then THE VIRTUE is the journey “back again.” This time, however, Mildmay has to deal with his own physical affliction, along with a sane and capable Felix. Felix is now, sometimes unfortunately, aware of every step of the trip. And both brothers are fighting a decidedly un-brotherly attraction. (Readers offended by homosexuality or profanity should skip this one.) As before, the story is told alternately by Felix and Mildmay, giving the reader deeper insights into both characters and a good overview of the story as a whole. The rest of the cast of characters is diverse and deep. There are no stock characters here. The author maintains a unique and dark-tinted tone befitting the subject matter. Both installments are highly recommended for readers of dark fantasy.

Rating: 9
July 2006
ISBN# 0-441-01404-6 (hardcover)

Rating Scale = 1-10

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