Sisters of the Raven

by Barbara Hambly

Warner Aspect, 2002.
Hardcover, 465 pages.
ISBN: 0446677043

Sisters of the Raven by Barbara Hambly In a world that is reminiscent of ancient feudal Japan, the magic is dying. For as long as anyone can remember, only men possess the gift of magic and enjoy the social stature that comes with being a mage. Lately, the men seem unable to perform any magic, from the simplest ward to keep mice away from the grain, to the most desperately needed spells to bring the rains to the parched desert city. But now women are showing the gift of magic, which infuriates the men. Set against this background is the compelling story of several of the women of the city, especially the young mage student, Raeshaldis, the only female student in the college of mages and Summer Concubine, consort to the kingdom's dandified ruler. Someone with powerful magic is kidnapping and killing any women who have the gift of magic. Summer Concubine, Raeshaldis and Pomegranite Woman must unite their powers to stop the killer and save the Yellow City from certain disaster.

Barbara Hambly has created a captivating fantasy world, which combines elements of feudal Japan, such as the geishas (Pearl Women), the costumes of the women and the social structure of the Imperial Tokugawa court. Yet she also weaves elements of Native American myth and touches of the middle Eastern culture to create a unique society that is, at once, familiar and exotic. Sisters of the Raven is both a murder mystery and an exciting fantasy story with action, magic and intrigue in abundance. Although the initial storyline wraps up nicely by the book's end, there are many more questions to be answered, paving the way for a very welcome sequel.

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This review was published in the March, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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