Tor, Nov 2002, 5.99, 468 pp.
Her Uncle Brinker rules Galazon as regent since he asserted that his niece Faris Nallaneen is too young to reign. As Faris gets closer to leading her duchy, Brinker sends her to Greenlaw College. Her aptitude seems poor as she is not much of a student especially of magic, but the dean claims that Faris is one of the four guardians being the warden of the north. Faris believes no one is less magical than she is, as she displays no talent until she confronts and defeats fellow student Prince Menary in a “war” of magic.
Brinker dispatches Faris to Aravill as an ambassador, but his plan is to have his niece wed King Julian, Menary's dad. Menary tries to kill Faris but fails, ending up in the rift. Still with her uncle and her enemy Julian plotting, Faris' future as the ruler of Galazon looks bleak.
This Harry Potter like tale, but initially published before J.K. Rowling's Potter mania, stars an engaging heroine who has more than just the weight of adult responsibility on her shoulders as she must also protect the world and defeat her Machiavellian uncle and a deadly rival. The story line is loaded with action and a feel that early twentieth century Europe is in deed a hot bed for magic. However, the tale also contains several subplots that seem critical to the basic theme, but vanish without resolution as if a magician performed a stunt. Still, this is a fun fantasy that adults and teens will relish while also seeking other works from master mage Caroline Stevermer.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner