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The Hidden Stars: Book One of The Rune of Unmaking Mass Market Paperback – February 28, 2006

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060575891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060575892
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,778,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anyone willing to endure names like Éireamhóine and Baillébachlein will find that a pronunciation guide and a map are about all that's missing from Howard's solid first novel. Classical fantasy elements, such as the eternal war between Light and Dark and the royal-born savior adopted by ignorant strangers, share space with a surprisingly original setting and story. Nineteen years earlier, Master Wizard Éireamhóine spirited a baby princess away at the cost of his life. Now the harsh Empress Ouriána, a self-proclaimed dark goddess, thinks she has found the girl and sends her monstrous priests to destroy her. The healer Sindérian, the wizard Faolein and the half-fey Prince Ruan travel north, where the young woman's family is battling Ouriána's malevolent forces for control of the land, to learn whether she is indeed the long-lost princess, the only one who can destroy the empress. Some readers may be put off by the simplicity—the kings are always wise, the wizards are always clever and the protagonists always survive—but bloody warfare, intricate magic and deft portraits of characters and culture provide some sparkle and keep things moving. With its strong (and not overly sexualized) female characters, the series should particularly appeal to anyone wanting a feminist alternative to the current crop of genre sagas.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Debut author Madeline Howard enjoys gardening, Celtic myths, and working on the next Rune of Unmaking book. She lives in Northern California with her family.

Customer Reviews

Battles, worldbuilding and characters here are built in rich detail.
A Librarian
She also changes tense in descriptions of places and is prone to telling instead of showing character behavior and feeling.
I liked the characters, though they were a bit predictable, still the story moved along well with plenty of action.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on May 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Empress Ouriana has declared herself a goddess and is intent on conquering the entire world. Those who oppose her have battled for decades, yet have only defeat and dispair to show for their fighting. But a prophesy holds hope. Someone from the Empress's own bloodline is supposed to bring about her defeat. And Ouriana's sister has a baby daughter. Keeping that daughter alive becomes one of the most important goals in the world. But the wizard who sets out with the baby girl is lost in a battle with Ouriana's priests--and nothing more is heard from the girl.

As Ouriana continues her conquest, years pass. The Empress's conquests move closer and closer to the core areas of the alliance that opposes her. If the girl survived, she would be a young adult now, and they need her help. A small group including a half-elf prince, the most powerful wizard left to the side of light, and the wizard's daughter set off to follow up rumors that a princess in a distant kingdom might not be who she pretends--might actually be the child foretold in prophesy.

Author Madeline Howard delivers a well written and interesting debut novel. The world she creates--one filled with monsters frozen in the deeps, a newly lowered moon that creates earthquakes as it circles, and of powerful magic, will be familiar to fantasy readers while containing creative elements that are all her own.

The story concentrates on the journey of Sinderian, wizard's daughter, and the Prince Ruan, but occasionally switches to the point of view of one of Ouriana's sons or to that of the princess Winloki herself. I didn't find the characters quite as well developed or interesting as the world and magical system, however. Winloki is whiny and impulsive, and Sinderian is a bit whiny herself.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer D. on October 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading about the characters that Howard created. They were well drawn and executed. I will probably pick up the next book in the series though may wait till I can get it used. The problem with the story is that it's nothing new. It seems that Howard has read a lot of other fantasy novels and has incorporated aspects of several of them (such at Tolkien, Robert Jordan, etc) but not really created anything of her own. She doesn't even explain most of the aspects in her book that are different from what we would expect on Earth because they've been explained by other authors.

Her book is a good, quick read if you're not looking for something new.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By the_smoking_quill on June 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
A small band of wizards and warriors must find the lost royal child prophesied to end the reign of an 'evil', self-proclaimed goddess-empress. Adapting that main plotline from *Willow*, Madeline Howard's first novel *The Hidden Stars* further combines several Tolkien-esque elements (wondrously dexterous elves/fey; vastly powerful wizards; not nine but twelve misshapen servants of the villain) to create an initially promising but unfortunately disappointing fantasy experience.

All or almost all fantasy plots have been explored time and again. What matters is the execution, and that's where this story falls short. It opens with the birth of the promised child and her disappearance (or death) in a cataclysmic battle between a wizard and the empress's servants. It then moves twenty years forward, to a time when the promised one has reportedly been sighted in a distant land. The good forces dispatch a small company to find her, racing, of course, against the evil forces.

A core problem is that, in the opening section, it's never shown how the empress became so powerful or why she's evil. We're simply to assume she is both. Echoes of this problem continue throughout (perhaps because of the strange viewpoint shifts--a main character is not well established). In the way of characterization, telling is often preferred to showing, perhaps because there's little of depth to show. In comparison with the characters from Martin's *A Game of Thrones* or any of Guy Gavriel Kay's novels, these are quite bland and stereotypical. (The wizards are calm and wise; the young heroine determined yet self-questioning; the half-elven prince amazingly agile and quick-witted.) The book's cover is perhaps ironically telling: no characters shown, just a generic sea-serpent attack.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Raven on July 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
"The Hidden Stars: Book One of the Rune of Unmaking" was a decent stab at fantasy -- it does fit into a standard fantasy mold a bit easily (hidden Child of Destiny, wicked witch-queen who wishes to kill her younger female relative, twelve demon-knights serving the Witch Queen and harrying the land, a time of medieval armies on the move and incipient war/rebellion...). The linguistics are strongly reminiscent of Tolkien, and therefore of Finno-Urgic language sets... all your characters are named things with umlauts and accents (Ouriána of Phaôrax, King Réodan, Thäerian, etc.), and that may make it a little difficult to get through if you're not fascinated by the linguistics. Still, it wasn't at all a bad read, and I was engaged by and interested in some of the characters, even if they were a little predictable. Not at all a bad first effort -- I'll probably buy the rest as they come out to see how magic continues to evolve/devolve in this universe.
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