cover image Fortress of Ice

Fortress of Ice

C. J. Cherryh, . . Eos, $24.95 (402pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97904-2

Religious and ancient magical conflicts threaten the fragile peace of the divided kingdom of Ylesuin in Cherryh's fifth Fortress fantasy (after 2000's Fortress of Dragons ), an intense coming-of-age story. Aewyn, the 15-year-old heir to the throne, has been raised apart from his illegitimate brother, Otter (aka Elfwyn), who resides with Gran, a hedge-witch. The boys, potentially future enemies, adore their father, King Cefwyn, who encourages their friendship by asking Otter to live with them after he turns 16. Almost immediately problems occur with the Quinalt, a religious sect that abhors Otter's mixed heritage. Strange encounters in a haunted library and a nightmarish visit from Otter's mother, an angry sorceress who has escaped from a tower prison, point to worse trouble to come. A helpful introduction will guide newcomers through the complex plot. (Nov.)