Saskia Walker,
Unveiling the Sorceress
(Juno, 2007)

In order to bring peace between their empires, Elishiba, daughter of the emperor of Aleem, has agreed to wed Hanrah, son of the empress of Karseedia. For evil Empress Mehmet, however, the marriage is merely the most expedient way to add Aleem's land, wealth and people to her own.

Elishiba is aware of Mehmet's desires, however, and has no intention of allowing Karseedia to swallow Aleem. She is prepared to counter Mehmet's wishes, to negotiate peace -- preferably without marrying Hanrah. What she is not prepared for is the strange attraction she feels for Amshazar, one of Mehmet's envoys. Nor is she at all prepared for her own growing magical power.

Walker's pseudo-Arabian setting is well-realized and a pleasant change of pace from fantasy's more usual medieval European settings. It is easy to visualize Elishiba gliding across desert sands. Elishiba herself is a good character: a strong-willed woman who is not afraid to act on behalf of herself and her realm, nor afraid to sacrifice her own happiness for the greater good should such become necessary.

The ending, however, is something of a disappointment. The set-up for a bittersweet ending where both Hanrah and Elishiba have made sacrifices that bring their realms closer together is well done, but Unveiling the Sorceress is, first and foremost, a romance, and romances demand a happy ending.

review by
Laurie Thayer

29 March 2008

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