Eos, Jan 2003, 25.95, 464 pp.
The Riversong villagers assign the lowest lowlife eleven-year old urchin Lale to deliver the golden needles to the princess because no one else is available. The child loses her package while crossing the dangerous Hatch Creek ford. Already considered worthless, the villagers drive the lass away. After a harrowing trek, Lale finds refuge with the “Midnight Mother”, Makina, the ruler of Tamurin. Makina sends her latest “daughter” to the School of Serene Repose. Six years later, Lale attends the School of Three Rivers for ninja training.
A few years later, Makina believes Lale is ready to begin her plan of vengeance on the neighboring ruler Terem Rathai. Lale enters Terem's land Bethiya as an actress. Terem notices her and Lale is quickly becomes his mistress. Lale finds Terem is an enlightened kind monarch and begins to fall in love with him. However, if she changes loyalty, she dies a nasty death by sorcery while as a war fought on two fronts (mundane and magic) is imminent.
THE ASSASSINS OF TAMURIN is a taut, exciting, and well written epic fantasy that works on several levels because the countries seem so authentic as if magic existed in Ancient Asia. This occurs because the characters provide a realistic social environment for the plot, especially the fantasy elements to perch. The first person account by Lale that later becomes a dialogue with Terem enables the audience to understand the key characters. Though the ending seems too rapidly short, this novel towers over much of what the genre offers.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner