Valery Leith, Author . Bantam Spectra $13.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-553-37940-2

In the concluding volume of the Everien high fantasy trilogy, Leith's (The Riddled Night) fertile imagination once again outpaces her narrative technique. Istar, the woman warrior, has to fight for the liberation of her homeland of Everien from the Pharicians while also fending off the time worms who threaten universal chaos; just for good measure, she's carrying the winged Eteltar's child. Meanwhile, Istar's foster father, Tarquin the Free, undergoes a strange metamorphosis—eaten by the horse Ice, he becomes part of the horse and able to travel across both time and space on the trail of the time worms, in alliance with his partner, Jaya. Eventually Istar is able to harness Sekk magic to challenge the Pharician occupation and take on Prince Tash, while in Pharicia the Emperor Hezene faces civil turmoil, and Tarquin's discovery of the Way of the Rose means big trouble for the time worms. All these plots and subplots, as well as major and minor characters, run past the reader so quickly that it's hopeless to start the trilogy with this volume. Furthermore, no character here is as developed as engagingly as, for example, the byrdgirl Liaku in book two. Leith will appeal to those who like the early Terry Goodkind, though she has a better command of language. With any luck, in the future she'll get better at harnessing her plots. The jacket art announces "strong female character," although Istar as portrayed looks way too healthy and made-up. (Sept. 4)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 560 pages - 978-0-553-57905-5
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1578-7
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