cover image The White Mists of Power

The White Mists of Power

Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Roc, $3.99 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45120-0

This fantasy of manners has two concurrent plots. In one a brash bard named Byron is condemned to death by Lord Dakin but is saved by Seymour, an inept magician who had escaped Dakin's wrath years earlier. The pair travels to the palace in hopes of being employed as the King of Kilrot's entertainers, but Seymour suspects there is far more to Byron than he is telling. The second plot involves Adric, heir to Kilrot's throne, who is brought on a visit to the city of Anda by one of his father's advisers, only to get lost in the unfamiliar urban environment. Forced to work as a stable boy to survive, Adric hears an announcement of his own death. He and a fellow stable boy then set out for the palace to reclaim his birthright. The link between the stories is unexpected and elegantly handled. Rusch, editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction , moves at a whirlwind pace through the political intrigue, constantly switching perspective to different characters, most of whom are trying to figure out Byron. Rusch manages to integrate a remarkable amount of plot as well as beguiling characters in a fine first novel. (Nov.)