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delightful fantasy romp
on March 28, 2011
Not a romance, but a fantasy romp with romantic elements, The Night Holds the Moon held my interest from first funny page to the satisfying conclusion. I read this lengthy novel in one sitting, ending at 5:15 AM, because I couldn't stop. The storyline is solid, the background and story world fascinating, and the characters believable, lovable, and just plain fun.
(Warning: spoilers below.)
Two very different women find themselves and grow into their roles in a kingdom ruled by a decadent queen and rocked by political strife. Elzin is a lady in waiting to the queen and an unrepentant floozy, who is accidentally chosen as the Saire, or Keeper, of a magical flute that's only ever before been handled by well schooled, well bred, noble-blooded virgins. To escape the queen's fury, she goes on the road, playing the Saireflute before the common people and winning their support at the instigation of Caldan, a strange Northern count who's taken this fun-loving but naive young woman under his cunning wing.
This brings Elzin into conflict with Castandra, Caldan's nearly-grown daughter, a sorceress who's well aware that her behavior is watched and judged by the Southern court around her. At first Castandra isn't certain why her publicly celibate father has any use for Elzin. But as she grows to understand the cynical depth of the political machinations with which he's surrounded them, not sparing his own family, Castandra finds in Elzin not a friend, but her future.
Colleen Thompson and Parke Roberts deliver solid, journeyman prose with some poetic elements blended in. There were some places I had to stop and re-read a few sentences to be certain I was following the chain of this sweeping story, places where plainer writing might have kept the pathway more clear. But that plainer writing would have detracted from the story's beauty, and I can't help but be reminded of the old writer's advice of "Never apologize, never explain." It's possible this duo made the proper choice.
This self-published novel has fewer typos, editing goofs, or formatting errors than many professionally published books I've read. It's common now to admit that such undesirable features are difficult to avoid at any house, but Thompson and Roberts have thrown down a formidable gauntlet with this effort. Kudos to them for an overall memorable and enjoyable story.