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2 September 2011

reviewed by Lyn McConchie.
some time back I purchased “Wizard’s Bane,” the first in this six book series. After that I was very busy revising several of my own books, but with those out of the way I discovered that the next two in the series were available. So I bought them. This on its own says a lot about the first book. I liked it sufficiently to buy the next – not one but – two.
I moved on after re-reading Wizard’s Bane, to Villenspell: City of Wizards. This picks up immediately after the first book, it adds several new characters in the course of the story, but all are fleshed out in depth, and have a distinctive voice. The books are “science fantasy”, with the background roughly corresponding to our 1700s.
Briefly, the main character, Dale, made an error when attempting to close a warp rift and landed on this world. In book one he acquired a boy, Kheri, a thief, as a combination of friend/trainee/servant. He added Faran, 27th child of the local Baron, a sixteen-year-old who is ignored by his father, has no mother, and is rapidly going to the bad with no good role model. Dale becomes mentor for both lads and the way their characters changed was very believable.
Along with Galdur, the young son of a bandit leader, Aerline, a sorceress, and Dale’s friend, Jarl, they travel to the city of Villenspell to find the College of Wizards and ask a few pertinent questions, while also getting a major spell on Jarl removed. They arrive, the spell is removed, the bandit’s son who has a talent for healing decides to remain in the city and train his ability, and Dale marries Aerline before they pack up and leave the city again.
All of which sounds if it wouldn’t fill a book, but it does so very pleasantly. There is Kas, a trainee assassin who bounds into the middle of events, is caught, and decides that he’d be better off with them. There’s the startling transformation of purple syrup by symbiotic magic into Kaowin, a younger brother for Kheri. And then there is a bully, Rik, who finds himself bound to Faran after he fails to kill Faran in a fight to the death. There is also Aerline’s problem with her prejudices against something that apes human life. The ultimate disposal of the College’s pizza transporter, and the incident at the Redhorn Tavern.
Villenspell is the second book in a series that I think of as a “road trip”. You have someone who is traveling down a very long road at the end of which they will have to do some major deed of great importance. Along the way they pick up companions, some stay for a while then leave, others will continue to the end of the road and help in the final denouement.
The main question is, can the author make each book in the series interesting enough? And the answer to that, in this case and so far, is – yes, she can. The characters have in-depth backgrounds that make them come alive, and render their actions believable and understandable. The gradual revelations are very well done, just enough and no more.
There is the occasional minor event I disliked, but that was a personal preference, and it certainly wasn’t sufficient to put me off. I look forward eagerly to reading the next book, WIZARDS AND WANDERERS, which I bought at the same time, and I have ordered the remainder of the series. If the author keeps up this standard of work I’ll be re-reading the six books, once I have them all, for many years to come.
One warning, read the books in order, they don’t read so well either out of order or as standalone volumes. But that’s something that applies to many series, and I don’t feel that it detracts from this one.

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