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The Barbed Coil
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Like her popular Book of Words trilogy, Jones's first hardcover is a predictable hybrid of fantasy adventure and romance. Contemporary heroine Tessa McCamfrey, purposeless and tormented by an inner-ear disorder, strikes out on a San Diego freeway only to find a magical barbed ring that whisks her to Bay'Zell, port city of a parallel universe. There, rescued from rapists by the irresistible black-clad mercenary strategist Lord Ravis, Tessa devotes her awakening talent for sorcerous illumination to the cause of an orphaned prince, Camron. The prince's realm is threatened by the evil wizard-king Izgard, who seeks omnipotence for himself and land for his demonic followers. Izgard tortures his scribe Ederius into painting magical patterns aimed at destroying his enemies, while Tessa, falling victim to Ravis's potent charms, must quickly master the same complex art to restore order to the realm. The colorful artistic lore imbues Jones's styrofoam cast with a certain spirit, but this fantasy quest lacks mythic resonance, and graphic, seemingly gratuitous violence disrupts the love stories on which the author lavishes so much care. Simultaneous Time Warner audio; author tour. (Sept.)

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