Daw, April 2003, 24.95, 544 pp.
Griffin Kirkwood was supposed to be this generation's Pendragon but he turned his back on his magical heritage. His twin brother Donovan was too weak to pick up the mantle so the Pendragon skips a generation. Griffin's daughter Deidre and Donovan's son Hal journey to France with familiars to prevent the massacres that are imminent. While working the spell, Hal is captured by El Lobison and turned into a werewolf.
He escapes and keeps his distance from the family for many years while Deidre becomes a spy for Queen Elizabeth I. Time after time Deidre helps prevent the plots of Mary, Queen of Scots to oust Elizabeth. Mary eventually goes too far and forces Elizabeth to act. Knowing that if Mary is executed, Philip of Spain's armada will launch, Deidre begs Elizabeth to stay her hand. When her efforts fail, Deidre is willing to use powerful magic that may end up killing her to keep England safe but Hal refuses to see the love of his life die.
The Merlin's Descendants series uses magic to explain pivotal historical events that played a key role in the history of Great Britain. Although never formally invested with the title, Deidre is her generation's Pendragon because she puts England's need above her own, willing to give her life to see her country stay free. Hal is more of a tragic heroic figure who doesn't succumb to his werewolf nature and is a proper mate for Deidre even if they are first cousins. Irene Radford's latest novel is a magnificent fantasy epic using real historic events and people to make the story line seems believable.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner