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Four moon gifPacific Rim Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0-930926-26-9
What's black and white and red all over? Remember, this is a family 'zine; no sick answers, please.

An embarrassed zebra, you say? BZZZT, wrong -- thank you for playing!

Book: Judith Hand, Voice 
        of the GoddessIn this case, the colors describe the remains of the Minoan civilization on Crete after being obliterated by a neighboring island-volcano, Kalliste.

No, I didn't give away the ending of Voice of the Goddess. After reading the back-cover copy and author's preface, wherein Judith Hand documents the theorized link between the Minoans and the legend of Atlantis, the astute reader will expect this violent geological event from page one. And Hand portrays it in imaginatively graphic detail.

To get there, however, one must put up with a female protagonist first introduced as a bratty preteen who, alas, doesn't grow up during the ensuing decade covered in the novel's chronology.

Fate blessed Leesandra -- or perhaps cursed her -- with a direct line of communication to a deity her people worship as the Mother of All. Leesandra must choose between her spiritual destiny and her emotional one as the virile warrior Alektrion lays claim to her heart. External conflict abounds, at times keeping the lovers apart, as worshippers of a rival male deity, Poseidon, seek to spread their religion through bloody conquest.

Can you spell "Crusades?" I thought so.

Obviously, the author spent much energy incorporating her prodigious research and spiritual agenda into this book. The setting comes alive as in few historical works I've ever read, and feminist readers of a New Age bent may appreciate its goddess emphasis.

The element that elevates any story beyond mediocre, however, lies not in its setting or theme but its characters. In Voice of the Goddess, the characters too often seem unsympathetic and illogically motivated. Some key characters, such as best-friend-turned-enemy Galatea, disappear without a follow-up regarding their fates -- and without much of a response from the protagonist herself. Even the "consummation" scene between Leesandra and Alektrion comes across as emotionally uninspired. The platonic relationship between Leesandra and her Nubian mentor, Zuliya, gets my vote as the most believable. In the final pages, Zuliya deals Leesandra a long-overdue comeuppance. I doubtless surprised everyone in the commuter train car with my cheer.

What else is black and white and red all over? Sometimes people answer "a book." But at 26 bucks for a hardcover, you can bet that Voice of the Goddess won't be read all over.

Kim D. Headlee

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