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    THE CRUSADING WIZARD by Christopher Stasheff


    Del Rey, March 2000

    Dark wizards have set the Mongol hordes against the world and the Arab Caliph calls on all of the world's rightful leaders, whether Christian or Moslem, to help him save the holy lands from the followers of Ahriman, alias Satan. Matt Mantrell, formerly of our own plane, but now of Merovence, and his wife Alisande agree to join the crusade. As they arrive in Damascus, however, their children are kidnapped and held hostage against their behavior.

    Alisande pulls her army back from the fight while Matt, accompanied by a girl-cat and two royal djinn, seeks the children.

    THE CRUSADING WIZARD is set in the world of A WIZARD IN RHYME (see our review of THE HAUNTED WIZARD, the previous novel in this series), a world where the medieval fantasies of magic and faith are all true. Matt's background in the liberal arts continues to serve him well as he dredges up poetry, song lyrics, and nursery rhymes to twist into magic spells.

    Christopher Stasheff (see more reviews of novels by this author) has written another light and exciting fantasy novel. Perhaps reacting to criticism that he has taken an overly Catholic approach to this series, THE CRUSADING WIZARD posits a larger sense of good vs. evil, where Moslems, followers of Prester John, and western Christians can join together against evil. The downside of this approach is that the pure Catholicness of the earlier novels gave them their unifying strength and personal power. Too, Matt has become well established in power and with powerful friends. It is becoming increasingly difficult to present him with enemies who represent a real challenge. Stasheff has tried to deal with the problem by bringing in new Earth characters, Matt's parents and friends, yet each time, doing so eventually adds to Matt's strength and power.

    Two Stars

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