cover image Spear of Heaven

Spear of Heaven

Judith Tarr. Tor Books, $21.95 (351pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85543-7

Tarr's usual blend of magic and cultural and gender exploration seems forced in this slow-moving sequel to Arrows of the Sun that matches its rhythms to the stately build of political and romantic alliances. Daruya, granddaughter of the emperor, wants to get out of the palace and do her ambassadorial duty, but one of the ``Worldgates'' has collapsed, and her grandfather forbids her to go on a risky overland mission. So Daruya sneaks out, as does her four-year-old daughter, Kimeri. Since both are heirs of the Empire and direct descendants of the Sun God (with the appropriate inherited magical powers), neither love nor misguided priests nor outmoded political systems are remotely capable of standing in their way as they explore the world beyond the imperial palace and, eventually, use their magic to battle mages who would topple Worldgates willy-nilly. While this fifth book in Tarr's Avaryan Rising series boasts better writing and more penetrating observations than typical sword-and-sorcery fare, it is undermined by Daruya's frequent railing against her own heart, a chorus of lament made all the more tedious since it's glaringly obvious that love will triumph and all will be well by book's end. Fortunately, the spirited Kimeri and the shadowy warriors who bodyguard the imperial heirs are much less predictable than Daruya's fate, and much more fun. (Nov.)