Delia Marshall Turner,
Nameless Magery
(Del Rey, 1998)

Delia Marshall Turner gives a slight science fiction twist to high fantasy in her debut novel Nameless Magery.

Stranded on a strange planet after escaping from the Enforcers who ravaged her own world, Lisane is surviving by her wits and not much else. She encounters a traveling mage who, when she exhibits some ability with magic, takes her back to the school where he teaches other young adepts. But Lisane's troubles are just beginning.

On her home planet, Lisane was a queen-in-training, marked by her ability to easily see and use magic, which she calls ller. Her power is greater than anyone's in her new world, a natural extension of herself and part of a spiritual dimension in which she speaks to the ller and requests her will of it. But on this planet, magic is wielded by men alone, and she is viewed with both suspicion and revulsion.

Still, she is allowed to survive and study with Simon, the mage who found her -- even if she can't understand why magic requires so many rules. Then she is sent on her student Quest with Simon and the fascinatingly loathsome Detter, at the end of which she will face the Beast and learn her true measure as a mage. But even this Quest pales in the face of having to save the entire planet!

Lisane's first-person narrative sparkles with nerve and humor. She is entirely and obstinately her own person, refreshingly frank and unpretentious. Her spirited attitude is reflected in the intriguing chapter titles, such as "In Which I Don't Eat a Rat," "In Which I Don't Kill Either of Them" and "In Which I Don't Poison Myself." The other characters are fairly well drawn, particularly Detter, with whom she has a peculiarly hateful friendship, although Lisane's character stands out significantly.

The plot is engrossing and fast-paced, from the opening scene in which Lisane tries to trap a tree rat in a downpour to the final confrontation at the end. It's easy to see why Turner is a "Del Rey Discovery" author -- discover the reason for yourself.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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