FIRES OF THE FAITHFUL

Naomi Kritzer, Author . Bantam $6.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-553-58517-9

Typical fantasy books require some getting used to before one is firmly hooked, but this far-from-typical fantasy from first-time author Kritzer is like chocolate cake: instant addiction. Kritzer's clever use of familiar-feeling things—people and place names that sound Italian, though they are not, and a castles-and-kings setting that similarly evokes old-world Europe in the era of murderous Borgias and witch-hunting Savonarolas—enables readers to effortlessly fall into the medieval Italianate world of teenage violinist Eliana. Cloistered in a monastery-like music conservatory, the prodigy is protected from an outside world torn by wars, famine, religious fanaticism and the deadly misuse of magic. Then an outwardly small event, the introduction of a new song that's not what it seems, catalyzes the kidnapping of her new roommate/best friend (who also may not be what she seems) and the brutal public killing of another schoolmate by "good guys" (who definitely aren't), forcing Eliana's fast flight and equally rapid transformation from sheltered court-musician-in-training into, quite possibly, the rebel savior of her doomed world. To the reader's delight, unresolved plot lines hint that sequels are planned; with habit-forming books like this, you can't read just one. (Oct. 8)

Reviewed on: 09/02/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1643-2
Open Ebook - 218 pages - 978-0-307-48491-8
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