Monday, September 21, 2009

Armed & Magical - Lisa Shearin


Armed & Magical
Lisa Shearin
Ace

Fantasy

This is the second novel in a series that began with MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND. This book picks up a bit less than a week after the events of the first novel. While that means some spoilers to new readers, it also means that there’s a nice sense of continuity for those who have read the series from the start. For the newcomers, the author does a fine job of weaving the backstory into the current action.

Raine Benares now understands that she’s bound – in some way she doesn’t fully understand – to a very powerful and evil rock called the Saghred. Naturally, there are plenty of other bad people around who would like to control and wield that power; either through Raine or over her dead body. That’s why Raine is now ensconced on the Isle of Mid, home of the most powerful mages in the seven kingdoms. The hope is that they will be able to find some way to sever the connection that doesn’t also sever Raine’s lifeline.

Mychael Elliesor is the paladin of Mid, and is charged with protecting the Saghred and Raine. The mages have put all kinds of magical wards around the thing, but so far, there’s been no long-term effect. That’s bad, since that means that Raine constantly feels the pull of black magic. And, apparently, others can feel it, too. The stone was asleep or controlled for nearly nine hundred years. Now it wants to play.

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but right around the time Raine and her party arrived on Mid, students at the mage college started disappearing. Since Raine is a seeker, she offers her services in finding the kids. But a very powerful someone has gone to great lengths to magically cover his trail. With her young friend, Piaras, starting his studies on Mid, Raine has a vested interest in making sure the place is safe.

The first novel opened strong and stayed that way to the end. This one gets bogged down a bit in the middle with the logistics of ‘is the Saghred asleep or not’ and Raine’s worries about her future. It’s not that these issues aren’t important, just that, in this case, they tend to really slow down the flow of the story. The plotting and pacing pick up tremendously toward the last third of the book, and remind me of just why I enjoy this series. There are a lot of revelations, changes, and reactions to be gleaned from the final chapters here. And there’s clearly more story to tell in the third book, and I’m more than eager to see how things resolve.

Rating: 8
May 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01587-0 (paperback)

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