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    Review of THE OUTSTRETCHED SHADOW by Mercedes Lackey (see her website) and James Mallory


    Tor, October 2003

    Kellen Tavadon, son of the high mage of Armethalieh, is bored. Learning the intricacies of mage-work is boring. Taunting his father is boring. Following all of the rules of the city--rules seemingly set up to freeze the entire civilization into immobility--is boring. When he discovers three books--books on a different kind of magic, Wild Magic, Kellen is instantly attracted. Because Wild Magic is about change. And Kellen has a desparate need to see some change. What he quickly learns, though, is that Wild Magic has its price and is one of the many things outlawed in Armethalieh. Chosing Wild Magic sends Kellen into a new life--assuming he can live long enough to claim it.

    Although Armethalieh considers itself the center of the Universe, there are other forces that are older and potentially more powerful. Elves once allied with humans against the demons of the Underworld. Now Armethalieh considers the elves to be among the enemy, an inferior race to be crushed where possible and ignored elsewhere. It's an attitude that the demons do everything they can to encourage because they have been licking their wounds since their defeat at the hands of their allied enemies. And now that the allies have divided, the demons intend to strike again. Kellen finds himself a focal point in the new emerging war.

    Authors Mercedes Lackey (see more reviews of novels by Lackey) and James Mallory spin an exciting and compelling adventure. The demons of OUTSTRETCHED are completely evil, but the other characters are fully dimensioned. Kellen can be annoying with his boredom, self-doubts, and doubts about everyone else but he grows to become a fascinating hero. The Mages of Armethalieh are making a terrible mistake with their rejection of non-human species and the Wild Magic, but even their mistake is understandable potentially noble. They really do try to do their best for their people. And the Elves obsess about beauty but don't always make for good company, or understand the priorites of their human allies.

    THE OUTSTRETCHED SHADOW blends high adventure with truly human characters--real people with goals, needs, and fears that allow the reader to sympathize and invest in their struggles, successes and failure. OUTSTRETCHED is an exciting start to a new series. I can hardly wait for the next.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 12/18/03

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