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    THE HAUNTED WIZARD by Christopher Stasheff

    Del Rey, Ballantine, January 2000

    In a world of magic that parallels the medieval Europe of Richard the Lion Hearted and his brother Prince John, the King of Bretanglia (Britain) is visiting the Queen of Merovence (France) hoping to stir up an excuse for war. When the Bretanglia heir is killed in a bar brawl, Bretanglia gets that excuse--along with a host of other troubles. Matt Mantrell, husband to Queen Alisande of Merovence and former 20th century scholar in our non-magical Earth, knows he must do something to prevent an outbreak of something similar to the wars that raged between England and France in our own universe.

    The threat of war is bad enough. Matt finds a cult of magicians who pretend to worship the ancient gods of the Druids, has conspired to put John on the throne in exchange for his support for their synthetic religion of might-makes-right. With only the assistance of two disgraced men who served as bodyguard for the dead prince, Matt must find a way to topple John, and defeat the hundreds of wizards spreading the evil of synthetic Druidry across Bretanglia.

    THE HAUNTED WIZARD is part of the WIZARD IN RHYME series, a series that postulates an alternate universe where the rules of Catholicism demonstrably work, where magic is very real, and where evil cheats. Christopher Stasheff (see more reviews of novels by this author) has extended the reach of this series beyond the simple battle between good and evil to a more ambiguous world where moral choices seem more difficult, yet must still be made. Stasheff is a powerful story teller and THE HAUNTED WIZARD is a fine adventure with just a bit of a mystery thrown in. After all, none of Matt's efforts will matter if he cannot discover who actually murdered the prince. (Note: this is the Catholic series. critiques incorrectly claim instead that Stasheff's A WIZARD AT WAR is based on a Catholic premise.)

    Three Stars

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