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    Review of THE PHOENIX UNCHAINED by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory


    Tor, October 2007

    Their fates seem clear. Tiercel (Tyr) Rolfort will become a clerk and noble for the city of Armethalia. Harrier Gillain, Tyr's best friend will become harbor-master for the city. Oddly, neither particularly desires those ordained futures. Still, when Tyr experiments with long-forgotten High-Mage magic--and it works--they aren't especially happy that they don't get to pursue their set future. Because High-Magic, Warrior-Magic means that the Dark, long believed eliminated forever, is back. And if Tyr doesn't find training in High-Magic quickly, he'll die.

    A thousand years before, the Dark had been defeated and the endarkened eradicated. But now a Wild Mage senses a problem in the balance--a problem that can only be rectified by bringing back darkness. That dark is never satisfied with balance doesn't seem to bother him--and his dragon gives him the power to do what no one had thought possible.

    Tyr and Harrier set out from Armethalia in search of a wild mage who can help Tyr learn what has happened to him and begin his training. As they travel, they learn that all is not well in the world. Bandits are willing to attack closer to the city than they have in generations. Dark creatures, long thought exterminated, are spreading, attacking small towns and individual travelers. Wolves are attacking armed men. Tyr is also attacked by magic--and manages to set an inn on fire avoiding the attack. What they don't find is an easy answer. Nobody, not Tyr's parents, not the priests of the Light, not the Wild Mages, not even the Elves can tell Tyr how to solve his problems. He's got to learn himself. Except, learning isn't easy when a small mistake could set a city on fire.

    Authors Mercedes Lackey (see more reviews of novels by Lackey) and James Mallory (see more reviews of novels by Mallory) move forward a thousand years from the story they told in The Obsidian Trilogy novels. But the key elements remain--the sense of magic, that prices must be paid, that balance is essential, and that even the young and inexperienced may become important.

    THE PHOENIX UNCHAINED is the opening book in a series and leaves the characters at the beginning of the real conflict. I'm intrigued enough to be looking forward to the next volume. I didn't have the problem I had with the books in The Obsidian Trilogy (the genocidal attacks on the shadowed elves), although I thought that the resolution to Harrier's personal issues might have been set up a bit more. THE PHOENIX UNCHAINED may not change the world, but it's enjoyable fantasy. Good stuff.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 12/10/07

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