THE USURPER'S CROWN: A Novel of Isavalta
The second, tragedy-tinged Isavalta novel (after 2002's A Sorcerer's Treason) from Zettel (Reclamation) crosses a number of genres, moving from Lake Superior in 1872 through the fairy-tale Land of Death and Spirit to the high-fantasy court intrigues of Isavalta. Along the way, figures from Russian, Chinese and Indian myth intervene in the young empress Medeoan's struggle against her Hastinapuran consort, Kacha, who's plotting to control her through magic. In order to save her realm, Medeoan must turn to her mentor, Avanasy, a sorcerer who's been living in exile in Wisconsin. Ingrid Loftfield, who has fallen in love with Avanasy, persuades him to allow her to accompany him back to Isavalta. Caught between warring spirits and between this world and Isavalta, Ingrid has to decide whether to follow her heart or her conscience. Zettel achieves subtle effects, whether in the magical workings based on weaving or in the balanced understandings of her protagonists' motives. She reserves fireworks for a few climactic scenes, while the story is at its weakest when characters act cinematically. Romance readers should welcome this one as eagerly as fantasy fans. Agent, Shawna McCarthy. (Apr. 23)
FYI: Reclamation won the 1996 Locus Award for Best First Novel.