The Cursed

Dave Duncan, Author Del Rey Books $22 (436p) ISBN 978-0-345-38951-0
This pleasant empire-building fantasy follows Gwin Nien Solith, an Innkeeper with the proverbial heart of gold, through her various political troubles, romantic alliances and fantastic escapades until she discovers her destiny. Gwin lives in the former empire of Quolia, whose inhabitants desperately await a Renewer, someone with the strength to bind together the local kingdoms being ransacked and decimated by petty squabbling and outbreaks of plague. Gwin has decided to take one of the Cursed--victims of the ``star sickness'' who have developed psychic powers--under her wing: a girl who has been transformed into an Ivielscath (one who can cure, or kill, with a touch). She also meets other Cursed, including Shoolscaths (who live backwards through time) and Awailscaths (who are shapechangers). When Gwin is threatened with a disastrous political marriage and the destruction of her livelihood, she escapes into the aged arms of powerful farmer and patriarch Bulion Tharn, foreseen to be the Renewer. Together, Bulion and Gwin must bring the reviled and feared Cursed to safety among their own kind and forge a new and better life for all their people. While his prose is pedestrian, Duncan (A Handful of Men) offers an amusing and well-proportioned blend of religion, prophecy and magic, as well as a touch of intellectual good humor in a lively, earthy tale. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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