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The Soprano Sorceress (Spellsong Cycle, Book 1) Hardcover – Abridged, February, 1997
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From Library Journal
A singer/music instructor becomes a sorceress in this first in a new series.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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).
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. Lord Brill wants Anna to stand with him against the dark ones.
When Anna is brought through the mists to Erde, another alarm sounds among the Dark Monks. The Songmaster is informed that a Sorceress has been taken to Lord Brill's Hall, but nothing is known of her origins. He orders a thorough investigation of the new Sorceress.
This novel is a sword and sorceress fantasy with a number of twists and differences. Of course, the use of song to produce magic is not new; Foster's Spellsinger series exploits the same gimmick. However, this tale is a little more serious, with a more developed sociological and political structure as well as a cast of powerfully portrayed characters. Moreover, the energy losses from using spellsong are well-considered.
While the author shows snippets of Anna's inner thoughts, he does not fully explain her actions, so there is a continual suspense generated by her behavior. At first, she waits and gathers information, but then she cuts loose with her own sorcery.
The autobiographical aspects of this novel, and Of Tangible Ghosts, are intriquing. The author is married to a classical concert singer and some of the concerns and behavior probably come from real life. I wonder if his wife is also an instructor of music and voice tutor? The academic irritations and rewards seem to reflect modern academia.
Highly recommended to Modesitt fans and anyone who enjoys sword and sorceress tales with a strong heroine.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
not his best work
Anna finds herself unexpectedly transported from Earth to Erda, where magic is real and...Read more