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    Review of WILD MAGIC by Jude Fisher


    DAW, July 2003

    Wild magic walks the world again after centuries of rest. The Rose of the World cannot remember everything but her powers are returning. The cat/beast is still held in captivity, but it is increasingly able to serve its own interests. And the old man has begun to awaken. But before the three are completely empowered, mortal men have much to do. Saro must suffer his family's abuse while the death-stone he carries makes him share their worst memories, Aran Aranson must make his doomed voyage into the ice flows in search of mythical gold. His daughter, Katla Arensen adventures in search of a ship designer, then finds herself forced to do woman's work. Virelai, once apprentice to the great wizzard needs to discover his true calling and escapte the bondage of those who use him. And the great female mercenary, Mam seeks work for her troop.

    Author Jude Fisher (see more reviews of novels by Fisher) writes a frustrating combination of fabulous world-building with one-dimensional characters. Katla is a brat-tomboy. Her brother is a crazy coward. Her father is obsessed. Saro is a whiny baby. His brother is a cowardly bully. Growth comes slowly to these characters, especially as few of them are pursuing any particular goal (this makes for fine realism but disappointing reading). Of the major characters, only Aran Aranson seems to have a goal. On the other hand, Fisher's world is fascinating with its different cultures, religions, and the strange trinity that created it and still plays an active force within it.

    The first half of the novel is slow sledding. Characters wander around without much purpose, fighting and dying without achieving anything. Once Aran completes his ship, however, Fisher seems to get her second wind and the pace of the story and my interest as a reader picked up as well. Relatively little of the first half is really necessary for the story (the kidnapping of the ship builder could have been handled in the preface) but readers must still labor through it.

    WILD MAGIC is a definite step up from the first novel in this series, SORCERY RISING (see our review) and gives me hope that Fisher will pull things together in the third volume.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 1/26/04

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