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    SHADOWSINGER by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.


    TOR, February 2002

    The great spellsinger Anna (from Earth) is dead but her work lives on in the person of Secca, Sorceress Protector of Defalk. The Sea-Priests have invaded with armies that far outnumber all of the forces that Secca can muster, especially since her own lands are divided in loyalties and even Roberto, the Lord of Defalk, cannot be fully trusted. Accompanied by a small group of lancers, her consort, and a junior sorceress, Secca must somehow defeat the huge armies and the numerous sorcerors of the Sea-Priests. If she cannot, the Sea-Priests will impose their ways--which include enslaving all women and cutting out the tongues of female sorceresses--on the entire world.

    In this fourth novel of the SPELLSONG CYCLE, author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see reviews of all novels by this author) confronts Secca with the ultimate choices. Either she must use the spells that even Anna feared to employ or lose everything. Secca struggles with her choices--wishing for any alternative but too courageous to take the honorable but losing way out. If genocide is the only option, it is an option that she cannot afford to discard.

    Modesitt always writes an exciting adventure and SHADOWSINGER is no exception. Secca travels around the fantasy world confronting one Sea-Priest army or fleet after another. Through clever use of magic, and the development of spells that the Sea-Priests could not even contemplate, she is able to destroy all she faces. Yet the Sea-Priests are patient. At best, a complete victory means only that their conquest will be delayed.

    Unfortunately for the novel's suspense, Secca is simply too strong a sorceress. Despite the Sea-Priest Maitre's cleverness and planning, and despite his confidence in his massed drummers and sorcerers, Secca merely escalates her level of destructiveness with each encounter. Although Secca is badly outnumbered, and although the Sea-Priests' habits of killing and enslaving hardly make them admirable, I almost ended up rooting for the underdog, hoping that Secca will get hers. Hardly, I think, the message that Modesitt was trying to send.

    Modesitt fans will want to read this summary to the SPELLSONG series. If you aren't already hooked, you might try one of his other novels. Modesitt is a great writer--but SHADOWSINGER doesn't represent his best writing.

    Two Stars

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