cover image The Rainbow Abyss: #1

The Rainbow Abyss: #1

Barbara Hambly. Del Rey Books, $5.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-345-37101-0

A blind, crippled and mute wizard named Jaldis--who can see only by virtue of his magic--and his pupil Rhion discover a world on the other side of a Dark Well in which magic does not exist. This concept frightens the two mages for, while wizards are pariahs in the alternate world they inhabit, magic is very much a part of it. (``It's an element,'' says one of their fellow wizards, ``like the light of the sun, like the air we breathe!'') Suddenly exiled from their home, the two wizards are forced to abandon the Well, and it is seven years before they make contact again. This first volume in a new series is typical Hambly ( Dragonsbane )--too much narration and not enough dialogue--and the closing cliffhanger, in which the Jaldis and Rhion land in the magicless realm, is more of a curbhanger. The unidentified world is obviously our own Earth, so the mystery of the finale is diluted. However, the alternate world, in which wizards are considered without souls (killing them is no more or less an offense than killing an animal) yet are constantly sought in secret by people wanting assistance (usually a love potion), is fascinating, and Rhion is a very likable protagonist. (Sept.)