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Myrren's Gift
The Quickening, Book One

by Fiona McIntosh

      When I choose a paperback I look at the description. To sum this one up: young boy inherits leadership of army, too young to fulfill duty, attached to evil prince, enchanted by witch, war coming, faces treachery with unspeakable odds; i.e., a standard coming of age story featuring magic words and swords. Sadly, this mediocre description does not begin to cover the thrill and seduction of Wyl Thirsk's journey to save his Kingdom.

      You know the boy is doomed from the first scene as his father, General of the Morgravian Legions, lies dying in the tent of his life long blood brother, King Magnus. Tension, guilt and grief are palpable as you listen to rattled breathing of the dying man. The two old campaigners plan the friendship and the dedication of their sons to each other in the way that desperate men make wishes and pledges to maintain a way of life that they have given their strength to create.

      Told through many sets of eyes in many locations, each character has its own clear personality and an individual story to share, reminiscent of the Canterbury Tales. Wyl learns more about his enchantment and the man he must become with each perspective he is forced to swallow.

       I believe this series will be consistent with what happens in most epic tales, magic is treacherous, the good guy eventually wins and gets the girl, creating peace and well-being in the land (at least I hope). In this book, it is not the destination that is important, it is the characters and their predicaments that keep you turning the pages well after bedtime. Answering the question "How will it end" is not the purpose of telling Wyl's tale; the question of concern is, to quote T.S. Eliot, "Who will it be".

The Book

Eos / HarperCollins
March 1, 2005
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The Reviewer

Beth Ellen McKenzie
Reviewed 2005
© 2005