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In Percheron the Zar dies and Boaz, the young son of Herezah, the old Zar's wife and Absolute Favourite, takes power. Ambitious and scheming, Herezah arranges for her son's rivals to be disposed of and oversees the assembly of a new harem. One of its number is Ana, who enters a world where she wants for nothing except her freedom. Ana's only friends are Lazar, the secretive and eligible Spur of Percheron, and a seemingly insane dwarf called Pez. Her attempt at escape, after undergoing a brutal test of Virtue, sets in motion forces beyond anyone's control ... Even more mysterious is the rising of Iridor, heralding a new cycle in the war of faith that will enmesh them all in a deadly battle between gods.
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Captured and taken as a slave to the desert city of Percheron, Lazar fought his way to freedom and to a powerful position as the Spur of Percheron, a protector of the city and a favorite of the Zar Joreb. But the Zar's death finds Lazar at odds with the ambitious mother of the new 15-year-old Zar Boaz. In addition, he is drawn to one of Boaz's harem girls, the spirited Ana, whose desire for freedom drives Lazar to risk everything for her happiness. The author of the "Quickening Trilogy" (Myrren's Gift; Blood and Memory; Bridge of Souls) begins a new saga with a tale of romance and sacrifice, mystery and magic that is redolent with lavish detail. Intriguing characters and an exotic setting make this series opener a good choice for most adult fantasy collections. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

A magnificent setting distinguishes this first of a new fantasy trilogy from McIntosh (The Quickening), who imbues the city-state of Percheron with many attributes of Constantinople under the Ottoman Turks. Joreb, the zar (or ruler) of Percheron, is well served by his military leader, the handsome Lazar, who fought his way to freedom from slavery. When Joreb dies an untimely death, Boaz-Joreb's 15-year-old son by his beautiful, intelligent and ambitious first wife-becomes zar. But not even Lazar or Pez, a dwarf jester whom nearly everyone thinks is mad, can shield young Boaz from the cruel necessities of ruling Percheron. (McIntosh, who doesn't stint on depicting the brutality of slaughter, includes a disturbing castration scene.) Meanwhile, gods and goddesses feud, a new odalisque joins the harem, and a neighboring kingdom threatens invasion. While the author leaves the culture's religious aspects undeveloped, strong characters and an enticing plot bode well for future installments. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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