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    Review of BEYOND THE HANGING WALL by Sara Douglass (see her website)

    TOR, 1996 (July 2003 U.S.)

    While on a medical mission in the prison-mines, physician apprentice Garth Baxtor discovers the heir to the throne of Escator. The discovery transforms Garth's life--makes him seek out evidence of the crime that was committed, and the magical tests that could restore the true king to the thrown. But Prince Maxamilian fears the outside world and doubts his own identity. In a world where the longest lifespan is one or two years, Maxamilian has survived for seventeen--but much of his identity is now lost. How can a young apprentice hope to overcome the entire governmental organization--when his prince doesn't even want to be helped?

    Fortunately, Garth stumbles across help. A swamp woman's daughter offers powerful magic. A monk searches the library for clues. And a mysterious order dedicated to the royal family of Escator hears of Garth's quest and volunteers to help. With a quick turnaround from Maxamilian and some powerful magic, order can be restored in the kingdom.

    Author Sara Douglass (see more reviews of novels by Douglas) offers a pleasant fantasy novel. Adolescent Garth will appeal to younger readers and Douglass's smooth writing makes the fairly linear plot seem more interesting than it would in less skilled hands.

    BEYOND THE HANGING WALL isn't Douglass's strongest story but it lacks the genocidal bent to some of her other stories. Fans will definitely want to add this one to their collection.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 8/17/03

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