cover image The Diviner

The Diviner

Melanie Rawn. DAW, $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7564-0681-3

Rawn weaves a rich tapestry of war, magic, and relationships in this historical fantasy prequel to 1996's The Golden Key. The Sheyqa Nizzira, despotic ruler of a Middle East%E2%80%93flavored land in the year 611, has meticulously planned to wipe out a large family of her rivals, murdering them down to the smallest child. When young wastrel Azzad al-Ma'alique misses his date with doom and flees, he sets in motion a complex revenge plot that will change the future of many lands and generations of both families. Gripping events build to a mid-book climax, but tension drops sharply in the second half, with a less clear trajectory and a sometimes bewildering array of characters. Toward the end, both the pace and the clarity pick up, though the developments feel less organic and more calculated. Rawn at her best remains a mesmerizing writer, and there is some of her best here. (Aug.)