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    TO THE KING A DAUGHTER by Andre Norton and Sasha Miller


    Tom Doherty Associates, September, 2000

    Ashen Deathdaughter loses her mother at birth and is raised in the forbidden bogs. Only the witch-woman Zazar keeps her from the fate of all bog outlanders--death. Ashen explores her surroundings always aware of the danger she'll be found where Zazar cannot help her. Still, her curiousity drives her to investigate the bog and the strange evidence it holds of different ways of life, different civilizations, and even different species.

    Outside the bogs, the land is convulsed with intrigue and a growing danger from the north. The great families of Ash, Oak, Yew, and Rowan had ruled for centuries, but now the King of Oak is a sick drunk, the Queen of Yew battling for her own survival, and their son a degenerate. Queen Ysa fears one thing more than anything--a return of the Ash family. In the north, far more dangerous forces are at work and have driven the Sea-Rovers from their land of Vold. The Sea-Rovers take refuge in the old citidel of Ash.

    Andre Norton (see more reviews of novels by this author) and Sasha Miller have created an intriguing world and tell their story in a compelling style. It is hard to put this book down. Too much of the novel, however, seems to be setting the stage for the real story. Ashen is a passive character moved by Zazar, Ysa, and Harous (a nobleman). Zazar is a mysterious force rather than a character. Prince Florian is a typical spoiled brat, presented as an evil threat yet lacking even the deviousness to make his evil credible. King Boroth is contemptible. After marrying Ysa, he impregnates the remaining Ash princess, then drinks himself to death. The Sea-Rovers talk about an alliance with the bog but when confronted with bog warriors, they fire without warning. Only Queen Ysa is fully developed. Although she is presented as evil, for the most part her decisions are based on the needs of her kingdom rather than any personal greed.

    Notwithstanding these problems, the reader will find him/herself drawn into the universe Norton and Miller have created. I would have liked to see the series begin more quickly, with a more driven and decisive central character, but I also enjoyed the novel.

    Two Stars

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