Dim Luster of Stuart's Magic
Anne Stuart: Prince of Magic
Certainly no one writes the dark hero better. In Prince of Magic, Stuart introduces Gabriel Durham, defrocked priest, student of magic and ancient beliefs. Gabriel lives in the tower of a ruined abbey and communes with its ghosts. The people of the village bordering his estates call him "the Dark Man" identifying him with the deadly spirit of the Yorkshire woods.
Gabriel returned to his estate in the Hernewood two years previously. Not long afterwards, someone began offering sacrifices to dark and dangerous gods: a strangled hare left to rot, a gutted doe. The stench of the kills drives the animals from the forest.
Gabriel denies any role in the slaughter, but does nothing to stop it or to investigate the disappearance of three village girls. Minister's daughter Elizabeth Penshurst suspects he knows the real culprits and won't rest until she rouses him to action. She refuses to accept that Gabriel is no angel.
Thematically linked to Stuart's Prince of Swords (1996) and Lord of Danger (1997), Prince of Magic offers two sets of intensely likeable lovers, diamond sharp dialogue and emotional intensity real enough to touch. A master of pacing, Stuart keeps you turning pages when you really should be doing other things -- like eating, sleeping or getting to work on time.
But time and time again, readers will find themselves yanked out of the story by copyediting and continuity mistakes seldom found in the most amateurish high school newspaper.
We're not talking typos. Typos happen -- period. And yes, this book (like Crescent Blues itself) prints its share.
We're talking major omissions, redundancies and contradictions. For example, Peter Brownington, the book's second hero, is never described. Peter says something to Gabriel with "devastating calm," and Gabriel responds with "icy calm" -- all in the space of two lines.
In the beginning of the book, the villains construct a wicker cage in which they plan to burn their Beltane sacrifices. When the time for the sacrifice arrives, the villains position the cage so the sacrifices must be thrown on top of it. Unless you plan to put something in a cage and arrange proper access, why build one at all?
Unfortunately, there's more. The book feels like it was hastily thrown together in a pre-holiday rush. Not that I object to getting Anne Stuart for Christmas, but the production values of Prince of Magic left me feeling cheated.
A jewel of a writer like Anne Stuart needs to be properly displayed. She should not be read through fractured glass.
Jean Marie Ward
Share your views on this book.