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    Review of BLOOD AND MEMORY by Fiona McIntosh


    EOS, August 2005

    Handsome but evil King Celimus is intent on becoming emperor of the world--whether through marriage of conquest. Anyone who opposes him, or even those who might possibly oppose him, are ruthlessly dealt with. Queen Valentyna of neighboring Briavel is his intended wife--uniting two kingdoms that had warred for generations. But Valentyna is in love with another--and that is a definite obstacle. Celimus has the rival murdered.

    There is only one problem with Celimus's plan--Wyl Thirsk can't exactly be killed. Instead, his soul and identity enter the body of whomever kills him. In this way, he has become first another man, then a female assassin. He needs to visit a powerful mage--the one man who might be able to explain this strange curse. Meanwhile, Valentyna faces increasing pressure from her own people to consent to the marriage and end the war, Wyl's sister learns more Celimus's evil, a boy and his dog have set off in a search for the returned Wyl, and a novice monk with another woman flees Celimus and his destruction of an innocent monastery.

    The concept of the 'curse' which requires Wyl to take over the body of those who kill him has powerful fantasy potential. Author Fiona McIntosh has also created an intriguing fantasy world with medieval-style warring kingdoms, strange magic, and a forbidden forest. I found the story a bit jumpy, though, as we switched out of each character just as they were finally becoming interesting. McIntosh's writing is heavy in dialogue as characters discuss things rather than do things, and the characters themselves are a bit whimpy, victims of circumstances rather than creating their own futures. While it's okay for characters to begin as victims, increasing reader sympathy, by the end of the second book in a series, they should definitely be taking the action forward rather than continuing to react to the one-dimensional Celimus.

    BLOOD AND MEMORY is definitely worth the read but it falls short of what it could have achieved.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 5/07/05

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