From Publishers Weekly
Typical fantasy books require some getting used to before one is firmly hooked, but this far-from-typical fantasy from first-time author Kritzer is like chocolate cake: instant addiction. Kritzer's clever use of familiar-feeling things-people and place names that sound Italian, though they are not, and a castles-and-kings setting that similarly evokes old-world Europe in the era of murderous Borgias and witch-hunting Savonarolas-enables readers to effortlessly fall into the medieval Italianate world of teenage violinist Eliana. Cloistered in a monastery-like music conservatory, the prodigy is protected from an outside world torn by wars, famine, religious fanaticism and the deadly misuse of magic. Then an outwardly small event, the introduction of a new song that's not what it seems, catalyzes the kidnapping of her new roommate/best friend (who also may not be what she seems) and the brutal public killing of another schoolmate by "good guys" (who definitely aren't), forcing Eliana's fast flight and equally rapid transformation from sheltered court-musician-in-training into, quite possibly, the rebel savior of her doomed world. To the reader's delight, unresolved plot lines hint that sequels are planned; with habit-forming books like this, you can't read just one.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In the world of her first novel, a Catholic-like religion called the Old Way is persecuted by organized goddess worship enforced by a formidable religious order, the Fedeli. Taking no prisoners, the Fedeli put the fear of the goddess into people by cold-bloodedly slaughtering "offenders" for the good, of course, of their immortal souls. Young Eliana is devoted to the craft of music. She and some classmates enjoy playing Old Way compositions in secret, and Eliana soon realizes she is drawn to the old beliefs. Then she discovers that the body of ruling mages--the Circle--is responsible for the war and famine her people suffer. Outraged, she flees the conservatory after the Fedeli murder her closest friend, an Old Way follower. Arriving in her home village, she finds it destroyed by soldiers and her family murdered. Devastated, Eliana lands in a prison camp, whose inmates crave a leader, which she becomes. Her evolution from schoolgirl to general in a few weeks is a bit of a stretch, but it is also entertaining. Paula LuedtkeCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved