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The Soprano Sorceress (Spellsong Cycle, Book 1) Hardcover – Abridged, February, 1997

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Product Details

  • Series: The Spellsong Cycle (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 509 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (February 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312860226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312860226
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A singer/music instructor becomes a sorceress in this first in a new series.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Modesitt takes leave from Recluce, the scene of his successful series of fantasies, in a new take on the classic situation of someone from our world being tossed into a fantasy realm. In this case, the one tossed is singer and music teacher Anna, who is recovering from the death of her eldest daughter. She finds herself in a world in which songs are spells, music is the source of power, and she herself is a potent sorceress. That status promptly makes her the target of at least three villains who, for grittily realistic and unpleasantly plausible reasons, seek to exploit or destroy her. In fact, a tone of gritty realism pervades the whole book, as Modesitt develops his variation on a venerable plot with his usual intelligence, so that more than just his staunch fans will be busily turning pages. Moreover, few will be unmoved when Anna routs a hostile army with her (literally) spellbinding rendering of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Roland Green

More About the Author

After spending years writing poetry, political speeches and analyses, as well as economic and technical reports on extraordinarily detailed and often boring subjects, I finally got around to writing my first short story, which was published in 1973. I kept submitting and occasionally having published stories until an editor indicated he'd refuse to buy any more until I wrote a novel. So I did, and it was published in 1982, and I've been writing novels -- along with a few short stories -- ever since.

If you want to know more, you can visit my website at

Customer Reviews

There are much better books with strong female protagonists out there.
G. McKay
Overall I enjoyed this tale and Im looking forward to reading the whole series, get a copy you might just like it!
I also feel that the story drags too much on the political aspects which slow down the pace of the story.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rusir-10 on September 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm a huge fan of Modesitt, but when I first read the back cover of this book I wasn't at all interested. In fact, it was months before I purchased and read it. I guess there's something to be said for not judging a book by its cover (or in this case the back cover). I find it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. Anna was a very interesting character - not the stereotypical hero who is told to save the world and bravely goes about doing it. Having a hero who questions herself and her actions is refreshing. The political dimension of her powers and actions I found particularly intriguing (this is developed in greater detail in the later books of the series).
As I first said, I didn't want to read it. But since I have, I've eagerly awaited each new book in the series (and I've bought them in hardback instead of waiting for the paperback version).
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on May 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Soprano Sorceress is the first novel in the Spellsong Cycle. In the world of Erde, sorcerers and sorceresses can use songs to build or destroy. Lord Brill uses song to build the foundations and walls of a fortress and then uses another song to destroy one of his musicians, Culain, whom he accuses of humming despite prior warning. Culain's son, Daffyd, wants revenge for this wrongful death and asks his friend Jenny to bring a sorceress from the mists to kill Lord Brill.
In this novel, Anna Marshall is a singer and music instructor at Iowa State University. She is a divorcee and has recently lost her daughter. She is on her way to sing at the Founders' Dinner for major donors when the world swirls around her. After a swaying step, she finds herself in a small, gloomy room in a peasant cottage on the world of Erde. Trying hard to remain calm, Anna questions Daffyd and Jenny to learn how and why she was brought to Erde. Meanwhile, Lord Brill is notified of the arrival by his magical alarm system and is shown the view in Jenny's cottage.
When Brill arrives at Jenny's cottage, he invites Anna to join him for supper at his Hall. On the way back in his carriage, he explains something of the nature and hazards of sorcery and tries to persuade her of his good intentions and the dangers facing Defalk. Her quarters are sumptuous and even has its own jakes. The Hall is guarded by armored men with swords and bows, yet is cooled by Lord Brill's magic. After washing her face and hands, Anna comes down for dinner, but is more interested in learning more about Erde and magic.
Lord Brill is building a fortress to defend against the Dark Monks, who have used massed Darksong to conquer Ebra. Now they threaten both Defalk and Ranuak.
Read more ›
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 30, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Normally, I have no problem taking Anne McCaffrey's recommendations on reading material. However, this time I have to wonder. The story line in this series of books is pretty good. The problem I have with them is the extremely repetitive writing style. You could probably put all 5 books in this series into 3 if you eliminated all the unnecessary repetition. Did you know that all doors in Erde, when knocked upon, go "thrap"? No booming, knocking, rapping - just "thrap". All horses "whuff". No neighing, whinneying, trumpeting, etc. And the protagonists, Anna and her successors, are some seriously angst-ridden folks - you feel guilty - WE GET IT ALREADY! I've read other books by Modesitt and the writing style seemed quite different. These books almost condescend to the reader by implying you can't remember what you read a chapter or even a paragraph before! I've NEVER before thrown a book down in frustration because I told myself that if the character "said that one more time.......". I honestly don't know if I recommend this series or not. I gave it 3 stars for story content only. But the writing style at least makes it a good read for ADD or Alzheimer's patients, I guess. I'm just finishing up the 5th book and I will be glad when it's over but still enjoyed the story. Weird, huh?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marc Centre on January 16, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I understand that the author is married to a singer, but for goodness sake! She is one dimensional and crabby, and all the men are stupid and bigoted. There is also some of the most horrible revised lyrics I have ever seen in my life. An example: Modesitt gives us painfully childish renditions of Row Row Row Your Boat and Sing by the Carpenters, topped by a grotesque revision of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, which is supposed to be sufficient music to make powerful magic. PLEASE! Yuck. Look, reviewers, just because a man writes a woman character who isn't a complete bimbo or window dressing [rare in fantasy, I realize] doesn't make this whiney one a feminist icon.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
by all the favorable reviews of this book (and the others in this series). Most of the book consists of trivial and repetitive daily events. If you took out all the episodes of Anna sweating (annoying and unattractive), or rubbing her nose to keep from sneezing, or patting her horse (which always replies with a 'whuff'), or wishing for a bath - well, it would be a much shorter book. She is constantly eating, her meals consisting exclusively of bread, cheese, and occasionally apple slices or meat in sauce (I predict some serious constipation), but although she is supposedly starving, she is never really hungry.
Nothing happens for chapter after chapter while suspense is supposedly building, but then the battles are resolved more-or-less immediately by her overwhelming power, which is never adequately explained.
What bothered me the most, though, was the lyrics of her spellsongs. We are given to understand that the spells are very sensitive to the words used, and the way those words work with the music, but then the actual poetry Anna uses is drivel - badly rhymed garbage, quite possibly the worst I have ever read! Your average angst-ridden, under-educated teenager could write better verse, and I can hardly believe that a popular, widely published author couldn't come up with something better.
If you have any literary standards whatever, skip these books.
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