cover image Halls of Law

Halls of Law

V.M. Escalada. DAW, $26 (496p) ISBN 978-0-7564-0933-3

Escalada’s weak epic fantasy debut establishes the Faraman Polity, a society managed primarily, though not exclusively, by women. The balance of power between the military and the psychic talents in charge of the law is uneasy, and this unease is embodied by Kerida Nast, a soldier who has been hiding her psychic talent. When the misogynistic Halians invade—destroying the Halls of Law, the royal family, and most of the female military leaders across the peninsula—Kerida and a few other survivors must band together with a group of hidden magicians known as Feelers in order to save their land. The intriguing setup is let down in part by inconsistent pacing. The story shifts from exploring Kerida’s self-discovery to the resistance against the Halians at dizzying speed, with a Feeler prophecy thrown in. The mix of point-of-view characters is imbalanced, and the Halians are paper-thin villains whose motivations come across as little more than blatant chauvinism, which may be off-putting to readers used to more subtle characterizations. (Aug.)