cover image Angel Isle

Angel Isle

Peter Dickinson, . . Random/Lamb, $17.99 (500pp) ISBN 978-0-385-74690-8

For the right reader—one who is able and willing to fall in with its stately pace—this novel marks a welcome return to the lavishly imagined lands Dickinson first mapped in The Ropemaker . Twenty generations have passed and once again the Valley and, as it turns out, most of the surrounding Empire are in dire need; only a quest undertaken by a woman of the Urlasdaughter family with an Ortahlson man can produce a magician able to help. This time around, the predestined pair is Saranja, who grew up determined to flee her family’s heritage, and easy-going Ribek, who would just as soon stay at home and work his mill. Accompanying them, and providing the point of view from which most of the tale is told, is Saranja’s orphaned cousin Maja, whose extreme sensitivity to the presence of magic gives this story an inward, contemplative focus that mostly compels but occasionally veers into self-indulgence. With its imaginative shape-shifting, worlds within worlds and stories within stories, this tale seems to tap into a body of lore that has always existed. High adventure calls: Dickinson treats readers to visions of flying horses, fearsome demons and the twin Ice-dragons who preserve the balance of the planet. A luxuriant exploration of the nature of magic, storytelling and love. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)