|Alma A. Hromic: Changer of Days|
of New Zealand, ISBN 1-86950-390-2
She knows she'll need every advantage she can muster to reclaim her throne from the man who thinks nothing of resorting to mass genocide to achieve his goals.
Anghara's desperate flight begins just a step ahead of her brother Sif and his murderous intentions. She manages to put his agents off the scent, through an uncoached display of illusory power, which buys her escape into the nearby desert realm of Kheldrin. There Anghara learns from the wisewoman ai'Jihaar the true nature and extent of her powers.
A glimpse of Anghara's vast potential, through an up-close-and-personal encounter with a Kheldrini god, drops a key clue about how she will become the Changer of Days -- although don't expect the transformation to occur in this, the first installment of a new fantasy series from "down under."
Two major technical issues kept me from enjoying the book as fully as I had hoped: two-dimensional villains, and too-wordy prose. I realize that "pure evil" villains are the de facto standard in fantasy novels, but that doesn't mean I must like that tradition. And the wordiness made me wish for a red pen more often than not.
Another issue that disappointed me centered on the fates of several minor characters. It seemed that just as I started to like a supporting player, he or she got killed, left behind, or consigned to literary oblivion with no sense that the character might return in a future book. Killing off a few characters or leaving them "back at the ranch" may be necessary to advance the story, but care should be taken to ensure that the necessary ones don't disappear from the reader's scope without a trace.
All of that aside, Changer of Days represents a respectable series opener for Hromic, who presents us with a strong yet sympathetically vulnerable heroine and an absorbing depiction of the desert culture that shelters her.
Kim D. Headlee
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