Sorcery Rising (Fool's Gold)

Sorcery Rising (Fool's Gold)
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Fantasy is always at its best when its subject includes something real; Jude Fisher's first novel Sorcery Rising (she also penned The Lord of the Rings Visual Companion) is not just about the dangers of magic, about strange places and exotic peoples. It is also about how it is that people come to hate and to exploit; Fisher is shrewd about the lies people tell themselves in order to be able to do what they want without any sense of the consequences for others. The wealthy Istrians have a culture based on the enslavement of women and dress this up with passionate goddess-worship; they truly believe that their Eyran trading partners, whose land they stole and whom they continue to threaten, are wicked and unnatural for letting their women smithy swords and reveal their faces. Tough-minded aggressive Katla hardly lands in Istrian territory before she is threatened with burning, and things get worse when she finds herself mixed up in the Istrian Selen's escape from a forced marriage. Fisher adds to a mix which might have ended up as a crude Vikings vs Taliban death match a particularly sinister sorcerer's apprentice who hardly knows what he is doing and a bunch of nomads who know and dread what it means when their charlatanry starts to be real magic. We have here an impressive debut that works its own intelligent riffs on stock material. --Roz Kaveney


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