cover image The Finest Challenge

The Finest Challenge

Jean Rabe. Tor Books, $24.95 (317pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0822-1

In fantasy stories, young protagonists are often wiser than their years and savvy in the ways of politics. In Rabe's third book about magical horses from the Finest Court (after The Finest Choice), 14-year-old Kalantha and her older brother, Meven are, regrettably, rather clueless to just about everything. Meven, who has become king, has inadvertently started a bloody war under the influence of the diabolical Bishop DeNogaret. After Kalantha persuades her brother that the war is evil, Meven decides the best way to end it is to traipse over to the opposing side with open arms. While it's a noble idea, it's also a recipe for disaster. Meanwhile, Kalantha, who's under attack at the palace, flees without the aid of her horse, Rue. What follows is a muddled game of catch-up among the main characters as they try to end the war. Rabe started the series with a bang, but this volume shows signs of fatigue.