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The Isle of Battle
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In this enjoyable follow-up to the well-received first book in the Swans' War series, The One Kingdom (2001), Canadian author Russell (River into Darkness) offers more superior high fantasy, with a large cast of fully developed and carefully observed characters, many familiar from volume one. In order to escape a forced marriage, Lady Elise Wills has merged with the dark river spirit, Sianon, to the dismay of her intended, Prince Michael of Innes. With the three Valemen Tam, Fynnol and Baore she sets out to find the mysterious wanderer, Alaan, whom she hopes will help to reconcile her to her new powers and to defeat her enemy, the dark knight Hafydd. In his own quest for Alaan, Hafydd is not above using treachery, sorcery and guile to achieve his sinister goals. As the action ebbs and flows around the known lands of the Kingdom of Ayr as well as the hidden magical lands, the author explores traditional themes of good and evil, though not everything is strictly black and white. Just as all paths led to Westbrook Fair in the previous book, so do all the principals come together at the Isle of Battle, with the fate of the warring Renn and Wills clans hanging in the balance. Despite the many disparate story threads, the narrative flows easily, building in intensity from a firm steady pace to a powerful climax that will keep the reader happily waiting for the next installment of this classically composed fantasy. Agent, Howard Morhaim. Author tour. (Aug. 3) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Hoping to escape an arranged marriage intended to strengthen her family in its feud against the rival Renne clan, Elise Wills bargains with a river spirit to spare her life. Although pursued by the sorcerous knight Hafydd, the mysterious wanderer Alaan and his traveling companions set out on a journey to free Elise from her bargain and prevent a catastrophic war of restless and vengeful ghosts from consuming the kingdom. Russell's sequel to The One Kingdom carries the tale of a pair of feuding families and the young people who represent the future's hope to a new level of fantasy adventure. Filled with fierce battle scenes and moments of personal drama, this skillfully plotted, well-paced saga belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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