cover image Point of Hopes

Point of Hopes

Melissa Scott. Tor Books, $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85844-5

This new collaborative effort by Scott and Barnett, like their first (The Armor of Light), is a well-researched medieval fantasy told in a literate and urbane mannerist style. Rathe-a handsome, young, incorruptible pointsman (basically, a police detective)-is given the nearly impossible task of trying to discover why the children of the town of Point of Hopes are being spirited away in droves, and where they are being taken. For assistance, he enlists the aid of both an out-of-work soldier, Phillip Eslinger, and the necromancer Istre b'Estorr. Astrology, necromancy, greed and power struggles all play major roles as Rathe attempts to find the children before a major astrological brings about a foretold catastrophe. Set in an alternative Middle Ages where the authors' intricate world-building only occasionally overshadows their plotting, this novel, though not fast-paced, offers intriguing looks at guild interrelationships, the uses of hand-cranked printing presses and medieval attitudes toward magic. It also offers considerable delight to those who enjoy intellectual puzzles of the fantastic kind. (Dec.)