Jude Fisher,
Fool's Gold #2:
Wild Magic

(DAW, 2003)

Wild Magic continues the saga that began in Sorcery Rising. Since I did not read that book, I was afraid that I would be quite lost but -- while I admit being a tad slow to catch on to a few of the details -- I had a grasp of most of the major elements fairly early in the book. Obviously the first book in this saga left readers begging for more, for Fisher includes an acknowledgment to her "enthusiastic and impatient people."

I became quickly engrossed in this book. There are several stories interwoven and it is impossible to decide who is the primary character or which is the primary story. Most readers will focus on Katla Aransen, a tomboyish young woman who forges the finest swords in all the land and wants to be one step behind her father in all his undertakings. Her exploits will leave you rolling with laughter -- or feeling your heart break. I especially identify with her character and actions. However, several other characters play such a major role that they seem equal in importance to Katla.

The basic story is that a great sorcerer's apprentice has escaped from his sanctuary at the top of the world and taken the sorcerer's magic cat and the woman created by the sorcerer to be the most powerfully seductive of all women. As they travel about, strange occurrences are noted throughout the world, affecting many people in different ways. When the woman, the Rosa Eldi, gets away from the apprentice, things really start going awry.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Katla's father Aran Aranson purchases a treasure map from the apprentice, an albino named Virelai, at the annual Allfair and gets gold fever. The map shows the location of Sanctuary, the sorcerer's island, and Aran is determined to make an impossible journey through ice-packed waters to lay hands on the treasure. But before he can go anywhere, he must abduct the greatest shipmaker in all the land to create a ship capable of breaking through the ice. Unfortunately, the greatest shipmaker happens to belong in the king's shipyard.

Meanwhile, back at the other ranch, there is a war brewing between the two countries, Eyra and Istria. While the debate ranges, the king of Eyra is caught in the magical spell of the Rosa Eldi and is so caught up in lust that he pays no attention to anything else.

Meanwhile, back at yet another ranch ... and so the stories go. The interweaving of plots and subplots is the most intricate I have found in many years. I was quite impressed with the author's ability to smoothly transition between the stories without any bumps in the road. It flows so well and moves beautifully between scenes and characters.

I loved it and was all caught up in it ... until everything abruptly ended with no resolution to anything except that I kinda sorta know what happened to the cat. At least I know if it lived or died. I have never in my life seen an author leave everything hanging in limbo and resolve absolutely nothing. I actually felt anger -- overwhelming anger -- followed by an urge to throw the book across the room and say ugly words.

I do understand that in a saga, you need to have cliffhangers. But you do not need to leave the entire dozen interwoven stories hanging in limbo with readers wondering if the characters lived or died. This cliffhanger was definite overkill.

My advice to readers is to wait until the saga is completed and purchase all the books at once because the author will leave you flapping in the breeze while you await the next segment.

Jude Fisher is a New York Times bestselling author with 18 years in the book publishing industry as a publisher of science fiction and fantasy. She worked with Peter Jackson's production of The Lord of the Rings and has written The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion and The Two Towers Visual Companion. She is a worldwide editor of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. She has a master's degree in Old Icelandic and is a lecturer in English literature. Thus, she is extremely qualified and her skill is reflected in the precision engineering of so many stories into one volume.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 17 April 2004

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