cover image The One-Armed Queen

The One-Armed Queen

Jane Yolen. Tor Books, $23.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85243-6

Following the format of the two earlier books in the White Jenna oeuvre (Sister Light, Sister Dark and White Jenna), the third shows how myth, legend, song, history and story interweave to create a magical tale that is neither wholly truth nor simply fancy. Focusing primarily on the adopted and natural children of Queen Jenna and King Carum, the narrative details the trials and tribulations of the royal family, who are trying to maintain an unstable peace more than a decade after the Gender Wars. Disturbing the royals' harmony is the need of Scillia, oldest daughter and heir to the throne, to find her path by traveling the ""mother road"" and learning more about her natural parents. More dangerous to the kingdom are eldest son Jemson's desires after he is exchanged for another prince in a land where women are lower than peasants, and peasants have no rights at all. Trying to keep everyone happy is good-natured middle child Corrie, who loves life, fancy clothes and his family. Far less prominent in this novel than in its predecessors are the dark sisters, mystical twins brought forth by trained women who appear only during appropriate conditions of light and shadow. Indeed, readers looking for the fantasy element nurtured in the previous books primarily by the twins would do well to reread those novels, since this one concentrates on the interactions of more mundane family members. But those who want to see the story of Jenna continued to what is probably its logical end will find that Yolen spins a mean yarn here. Also included are music and lyrics for 10 songs by Yolen's son Adam Stemple. (Nov.)