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Dawn Cook follows up her strong "First Truth" with a solid sequel, which picks up most of the threads from the first but leaves plenty of space for further adventures. The sequel syndrome hasn't hit "Hidden Truth," and fans of Cook's first book won't be disappointed.
The evil Keeper Bailic has the First Truth book, but he can't open it. Believing that the piper Strell is the person who can, he tries to teach Strell magic -- not knowing that Alissa is really the blossoming Keeper. While Bailic frustrates himself with Strell, Alissa is learning magic from the raku-Master Talo-Toecan (also known as "Useless"), except that she seems to be far ahead of where she should be -- with more powers than she should have. And there's a friend of Useless's named Lodesh, who is charming, weird, interested in Alissa, and totally mysterious.
Alissa has to perform the magical tasks for Strell, so that he seems to be gaining skill -- at the same time, she learns that she may never get to be with him. Soon Bailic's plans become very, very clear -- he wants to raise an army of the dead, from the city of Ese' Nawoer, which is filled with thousands of guilt-wracked ghosts. But to do that, he has to use the First Truth. And in order to stop him, Alissa will have to learn about what she can do -- and what she might become.
Dawn Cook's fantasies avoid most of the fantasy cliches by not trying to avoid them. She has a small, well-developed cast, a simple cultural backdrop, interesting magic, and a very interesting cast. The villain is given an actual reason to do what he does, and the heroes have to be patient and think. And while this is a satisfactory conclusion to the first book, there are enough loose threads -- the vanished or feral Masters, for example -- that there is plenty left to explore if Cook chooses to.
Probably the biggest problem with this story is the pacing -- like "First Truth," it drips steadily for about two hundred and fifty pages, then speeds up to a delicious climax. And the medieval setting seems a little out of sync with all the talk about genetics and neural nets. Her writing is detailed but not obsessively so, and some scenes -- such as the ghosts' attack, or when the book is first opened -- are shatteringly vivid.
Alissa is still likably stubborn, but has to grow up a great deal more in this book; she's come a long way from the rather petulant farm girl. Strell is a sweetie, sensitive or tough as the occasion demands, and his sort-of-romance with Alissa is wonderfully done. Talo-Toecan is pleasantly snappish and crabby, but very protective of Alissa, and Lodesh is delightfully charming and occasionally irritating.
Though it lacks in a few areas, Dawn Cook's second novel is overall a pleasant and intriguing fantasy adventure. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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VINE VOICEon March 24, 2003
Even though the fallen Keeper Bailic had the book titled "First Truth" he could not open it. It was warded well and only the person it "claimed" could open it for the knowledge within. Bailic believed Strell to be the latent Keeper and blackmailed Strell to learn magic from him. Once the musician knew enough magic and opened the book, Strell and Alissa would be expendable.
Secretly Alissa was under the tutelage of the last surviving Master. She had no idea how special she was and the Master feared that he could not bring her magical abilities to full maturity alone. If he failed though, she would die.
Near the Hold was the abandoned city of Ese'Nawoer where thousands of guilty souls waited to serve the one who would waken the city. If Bailic had his way, he would claim those souls and order them to spread madness among the lands, causing the farmers and the plainsmen to go to war.
***** Author Dawn Cook pleases her readers again with this novel, the sequel to "FIRST TRUTH". I actually found myself holding my breath during a couple of tense moments as I read. The novel is even better than the first, which I did not even believe possible. I am VERY PROUD to tell everyone about this wonderful author and can hardly wait for her next release!
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on September 18, 2005
Hidden Truth, the second book in Cook's Truth quartet, continues the story of Alissa, Strell, and the book First Truth. It is much more action-filled than the previous book in the series, and as such is much more satisfying. While the first book in the series felt almost like a prologue until the very end, plenty happens in this book to justify the long set up.

In Hidden Truth things move beyond character and setting and into the actual plot that Cook only hinted at in the first book of this series. The world is developed further, new characters are introduced, and plot twists keep things very interesting.

The only thing that wasn't different from the first book was the characterization. Though there was further development of Alissa towards the end of the book, and there was a new major character introduced, for the most part, the characterization did not change from what was developed in book one. This is not a bad thing, as the characterization in book one was strong, but it would have been nice to see some further development of Strell and Useless and Bailic.

The main weakness of Hidden Truth was the explanations. There were several plot devices that worked very well, but that would have been better if they had been explained further. There were some that were confusing, and others that were explained well enough that they weren't confusing, but the reader isn't left feeling as though he or she completely understands what is being talked about either. Many of the references are deliberately vague, to conceal plot twists later in the story, but some are never explained later in the book, and that is disappointing.

That is, however, really the only big weakness in Hidden Truth. Cook's writing flows easily and is neither too wordy nor too sparse. She does a wonderful job building a world, crafting small details that make it seem real. Though some of the details are odd, they do give the world a very genuine feel and they make the characters seem more realistic.

Hidden Truth is a highly satisfying book, one that could almost stand on its own if it weren't for the extensive background information provided in the first book in this series. The ending is satisfying, if a bit sappy at the very end. The twists and turns continue up to the last few pages, but that doesn't stop Cook from tying up all the loose ends so admirably one might wonder what there is left to do in the other two books. The ending of Hidden Truth truly felt like the ending to the story.

Anyone who enjoyed First Truth will enjoy Hidden Truth a lot, and those who picked it up without reading the first book will likely want to go back to fill in the details. Lovers of the fantasy genre and those new to it will all likely enjoy this book very much.
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on February 17, 2003
Alissa never believed in magic, that was until magic drew her to the Hold. Now Alissa, and her close friend Strell, are no less than prisoners inside of the Hold until the winter ends. The current Keeper, Ballic, has kept them prisoner in hope that Strell will be trained in magic quickly enough for him to open the book "First Truth" before spring comes. But unfortunately for Ballic, and fortunately for everyone else, Strell has no gift in magic at all. In order to protect Alissa and the book "First Truth" they have managed to trick Ballic into thinking the Strell is the hold's latent keeper, when it's really Alissa. But they know their time is growing short. Ballic is planning on doing something very dangerous that requires the power of First Truth. If Alissa does not finish her secret training from the master mage, Useless, much more than their very lives will be in danger.
Hidden Truth is the sequel to First Truth in the second book in Dawn Cook's series. I was happy to see the characters from First Truth return and continue their development. The tender romance between Alissa and Strell that was barely addressed in First Truth now is finally addressed. The very small cast has also been expended to include the charming Warden Lodesh who competes for Alissa's affections. I can't wait to see what continues to happen after this. The way Dawn Cook finished the book makes me feel like she's not quite done with it. I'd love to hear more about Alissa, Strell, and Useless. I recommend this series to any fans of Tamora Pierce, Kristin Britain, and Robin McKinley. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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on July 29, 2013
I love finding a series of books as I read through them pretty fast so one is seldom enough. I found book 1 in my library and gave it a try since I like Kim Harrison's other books. I was hooked on book 1 and was very disappointed my library did not have the rest of the series. Thank you Amazon for making it easy for me to find the remaining books in the series.Now that I have read all four I think I will donate the missing books to my local library so someone else can enjoy the complete sereis as well.
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on April 19, 2013
The first book had wonderful characters that you cared about and were very well-developed. However, the book was slow paced and even though it was a full book, it still felt like it was artificially ended. I kept expecting the pace to pick up and it never did. Well the second book gets exciting and has lots of action! Honestly, I feel like the first and second book should be read as one book.
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VINE VOICEon August 29, 2004
Dawn Cook has managed to write a series that is totally unique. Hidden Truth picks up where First Truth left off. You have Alissa and Strell at the Hold being domestic, while fending off the evil Bailic. All three are becoming restless. Strell, due to his unvoiced love of Alissa; Bailic, due to his wanting the book open; and Alissa, because she want's to know where the heck is that darn raku, Useless!

Useless does show up of course and begins his tutorage of Alissa (of course in the nick of time to prevent Bailic's temper from overloading). Bailic, thinking Strell is the Keeper, attempts to teach him magic and is pleased by the results (unbeknoweth to him that Alissa is the one actually performing the deeds.) Bailic desides to attempt the rising of the ghosts of the nearby ghost village of Ese' Nawoer. It doesn't work, but in the process Alissa does. Enter Lodesh, ancient Warden of Ese Nawoer. Things become increasingly interesting from here on.

I actually read the third book in this series before this one. Please don't do this, although it did not take away from the third in the series (increadibly good/funny) it did take away from Hidden Truth. Having done this, I could easily see how Cook prepared and led the series into the third. Everything in Hidden Truth is a set up for Forgotten Truth (Third).

I highly recommend any and all books in this series, but please be prepared to stay up late finishing it off.
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on February 26, 2003
This book, Hidden Truth, is the sequel to Dawn Cook's first book, First Truth. Unless you have read it first, don't even attempt to read this one. It would be hard to understand because everyone's history is explained in the first one, including backgrounds on rakus, Ese' Nawoer, Bailic, Alissa, Strell, Useless, the plains and foothills, and everyone's strengths and weaknesses. If you have read the first one, do pick up this book! It was horrible for me to wait the few weeks in took between when I finished the first book and when I got my hands on the second book because the first ended on such a cliffhangar.
I think that the main problem with this book is, first of all, both start out so boring that you just want to stop reading right there, but you keep going to find out what happens to the characters, which is this book's great strength. Every character is fully developed and has a completely rounded personality. Even Bailic, the main bad-guy, can be pleasant at times. Each person has their qualities and annoyances. It's wonderful to get to know the characters so well that you feel like you know them. If it's great action you're looking for, skip this book. Romance? Skip (though there is a bit in the second book, which is sweet only because you see how Alissa and Strell have gone from really not liking each other to this over the course of two whole books, plus there's the irony in the situation...). Same with if you're looking for a story with lots of magic. This book has magic, of course, but it's done and explained in such a matter-of-fact way that it seems like it really could happen. This makes it appear realistic, but almost in a borish way. I do appreciate the creativity behind the idea of tracings, sources, and wards, though. The idea of mild curses (like our words such as 'holy cow' or 'darn') that they use in the book, such as 'Hounds', 'Wolves', and 'Ash', are really amusing and seem very realistic. I also really liked the fact that Warden Lodesh Stryka came into play, considering that there are so very few characters in the Truth books.
Overall, I did like this book. Once you get started, you get so caught up in the characters that you share their joys and pains, and you don't want to stop reading, but (of course) she leaves you hanging on the last page. If you have nothing better to read? Go for this book. I definately liked it, but I didn't love it, and it certainly could have been better. It seemed that the author's main objective at times (actually, throughout) was to take the littlest bit of real information to write about and expand it as long as she could before completely boring her audience. If you asked what happened in this book, I could probably sum it up quite nicely in two sentences. That's not a good thing, you can imagine, and yet it still works. Like I said, if you want a character-oriented novel that's very indepth, this is a story with some elements of friendship and magic that you'll probably enjoy. It has no sex, violence, or profanity in it, but it's not for children only in that it would probably lose their attention very quickly. If it's magic you're looking for, I suggest Tamora Pierce's The Circle Opens series, or Harry Potter (but who hasn't read it?). All in all, this was a decent read and I admit that I enjoyed myself, but when I think about it, there are enough problems in it that I have a hard time giving it an excellent recommendation, but it's a pleasant read; I'll say that much.
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on February 2, 2013
Ordering online can be very cryptic when you can't see pictures of exactly what you are ordering. I have tons of luck with used books and this is the first that kind of startled me. very little damage to the front cover (mind you it is the old cover, not the one pictured) and it has some kind of mold or old water damage on the last 60 pages yet is still readable so just want to inform others. I did have very prompt order confirmation along with speedy shipping and I get what I pay for when it only cost me a penny :)
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VINE VOICEon March 21, 2011
These are some good books. I am savoring them and reading the series slowly. This one had some great suprises in it I really liked. I am loving the characters the more I read.
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