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Publisher: Luna (Harlequin Books)
Release Date: September 2004
ISBN: 0373802102
Format Reviewed: Paperback
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Genre:   Romance / Fantasy
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

The Mountain's Call
By Caitlin Brennan

     Valeria has always imagined that her life would be much the same as her mother’s – marriage to a good local boy and a career as the village wise woman. However, when she hears the Call there is no holding her back and she sets off for the Mountain. Here, the Gods live in the form of white horses and the elite corps of Riders who ride them in the sacred Dance. However, the Riders are all men and no woman has ever heard the Call in over a thousand years. Valeria finds it easy to pretend to be a boy, and finds the tests child’s play but this is not enough and she finds all her dreams have come to nothing. Nevertheless, war is in the wind, and extraordinary times need the skills of special people.

     When I discovered the author is actually Judith Tarr I knew I was in for an enjoyable book and wasn’t disappointed. This is a fast-paced and exciting fantasy, with a feisty and determined heroine and set in a well realized world. It is easy to get involved with the plot, and in common with all her other books (but very little other fantasy) this tale never treads water and is of a reasonably modest length. Romance fans will be pleased to find that there is a love story in here as well, but it doesn’t swamp the lively plot although this is very much a novel for women. There is a strong message in here about sexism, and any red-blooded female will be rooting for Valeria. Perhaps to its detriment all the male characters are flawed in some way and this is very much Valeria’s story, with all the other people part of the colorful backdrop. However, here is a novel that rolls along like a wheel running down a hill and I will certainly want to read the second book when it comes out in 2005.