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    MOTHER OCEAN, DAUGHTER SEA by Diana Marcellas

    TOR, September 2001

    Brierley Mcfell is a witch, descended from the all-but extinct shari'a and still living under the absolute prohibition of all witches. Yet, her healing gift is a calling that Brierley cannot deny no matter how much danger it puts her in. When the pregnant wife of the local Earl, Melfallan Courtray lies dying in an assassination attempt, Brierley brings her powers to bear, healing the woman and exposing her fatal secret to the world.

    Melfallan would just as soon reward Brierley as punish her, but he is only an Earl and the Duke has other plans--plans that include using protecting a witch to overthrow Melfallan and replacing him with someone more compliant. It would suit the Duke just fine if Brierley confesses, then conveniently vanishes, leaving Melfallan completely exposed and without the venu of a trial to attempt to bring down the Duke. Somehow Melfallan has to protect herself and also the unique successor she finds in the Duke's capital--a shari'a witch almost overwhelmed by her secret.

    Author Diana Marcellas's world-building skills are everywhere evident in MOTHER OCEAN, DAUGHTER SEA. The genocidal history of the peoples who populate her world, the powers of the witches, and the strange technical/magical beings who supplement the purely magical powers of the witches, make for interesting reading and set the stage for more books in this series. At times, Marcellas's narrative becomes lost in retrospectives about the history of her land.

    Perhaps it is this reviewer's flaw rather than that of the novel, but I found the romantic development between the Brierley and the married Melfallan to be disturbing, especially as neither seemed much concerned about the impact that their relationship would have on Melfallan's wife. I would also have enjoyed the book more if Brierley had succeeded more through her own actions rather than through luck or through the efforts of others.

    Two Stars

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