Ossus Library Index Fantasy Index

MYSTIC QUEST

A novel by Tracy and Laura Hickman (2005, Aspect)
Book 2 of the Bronze Canticles

 A human, faery and goblin, all in their own worlds, go in search of a city that can bring them peace, from dragons, the walking dead, and for knowledge, respectively.

 

 

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Read June 27th to July 12th, 2014, in hardcover  
   

This book was far more interesting than the first. Maybe because of the quest aspect, or I might have liked the characters better. The characters also got to do more than simply react. They did some thinking in order to come out of the situations they found themselves in. This is still not a great series, but it shows a little more promise than it did a book ago.

Full spoiler review:

All three worlds in this book have changed, and for the most part, we deal with a new generation of characters. They also use their newfound magic more freely, without really questioning why it works. There is less interaction between the worlds, until the very end, where they must work together in order to win their struggles.

As in the last book, the human world dominates. But the key to the puzzle comes from the goblin world. Mimic has been king for more than twenty years, and in that time, he has conquered most of the goblin realms, turning the pages of books to keep the Titans and other machinery moving. As this book starts, he captures Thux, the wizard (scientist, actually) of a far-away realm. He sends Thux off to spy on a great ogre city, where he discovers a library -full of complete books, and here he realizes that they mean something more than just making machines move. They are meant for learning things! And he worries that when Mimic's army arrives, they will cart away the books, which he realizes must be kept in a certain order to make sense. The ogres welcome war, as the last of the Titans told them to defend the palace-city. The ogres are easily losing the battle until Thux manages to activate a bronze sphere, which activates ancient Titans and lifts a part of the Citadel into the air, scaring the army into surrender.

I liked Thux, who was more of a tinkerer and inventor than anything. All he wanted in life was to work with his devices, but Mimic kept promoting him (to his dismay), and he just spied for the king so he could get back to his wife. He is the one who probably learns most in this book, but of course he had the longest way to go!

In the faery world, Dwynwyn sends her apprentice Shaeonyn, as well as the newly-emerged mystic Princess Aislynn on a quest of her own, as her dreams tell her to do. She doesn't know what they are searching for, so they organize a pilgrimage to the ancient Kyree lands, to bury the recently-deceased leader.

They travel into lands controlled by non-faeries, which scares all the faeries, though they continue onward through the death of one of their number, a rocky boat ride, and a betrayal by Shaeonyn. The Kyree send them to a sequence of prison-islands because they think they can only trust Shaeonyn. As one of their number runs out of energy, Aislynn and the others help him to make it to the first island. There she discovers they all have some sort of magical ability, and she creates a bubble of air that allows them to walk along the sea bottom instead of trying to fly the impossible distance. The plan works perfectly until they gain the interest of a sea-snake, which tries to eat them, then brings them far from where they want to go. Oops. Eventually they end up in the realm of the mer-folk, who claim that Dwynwyn was stealing their magic by taking the dead from the sea. They think the mission to the Kyree lands may help them, so they transport the air bubble there, and the faeries arrive a few hours ahead of Shaeonyn and her crew.

In the Kyree lands, Aislynn discovers Kyree people merged with their surroundings (literally half inside buildings and streets), and a bronze sphere that was disassembled and put back together incorrectly, probably the cause of all the problems of the last four hundred years. As Shaeonyn appears and reveals that she is one of the undead herself (with access to all that magic? really?), Aislynn enters the dream world, where she notes the orientation of Thux's sphere, and puts it back together correctly. She also discovers a sword that allows them to kill undead warriors that she unleashed at the end of the last book. One of her group uses that to destroy Shaeonyn. Presumably, the magic has been restored to its proper orientation, so I wonder what changes that will wreak in the Faery kingdoms. It will take the next book to find out.

As for the humans, they spend a lot of time traveling through the mountains. Galen sends his son Caelith south, to where the wind blows in his dreams. He believes the Pir monks have discovered the lost city of the gods, Calasandria, and the guide ends up being another son he never knew, Jorgan, from the woman he thought he loved more than life itself -Berkita -who ended up becoming a Pir monk after he abandoned her in that city decades ago in Mystic Warrior. She became pregnant the day he was chosen for the Election.

It turns out that Galen's actions on the field of battle at the end of the last book really sent the world spiraling out of control, as the dragons fought each other, and the humans turned against all those who might have a hint of the mystic power, for fear of the wrath of the dragons and the monks. The plan, which is obviously a trap from the beginning, is to bring all mystics out of the dragon lands so they are no longer a nuisance or a threat, and send them to their ancient home. From the dragon perspective, of course, they want all the mystics together so they can kill them all.

Caelith and Jorgan do not get along at all, coming at magic from completely different perspectives, and being right from their points of view, but they don't have all the information. Thankfully they meet the old dwarf Cephas, who was sent out to discover the city almost a year ago, and he helps lead them much of the way. They come to an ancient city, which is not the one they were looking for, but Jorgan thinks it is. The mystics find a map that is illuminated by their magic, and they continue on, eventually coming to the dwarf road -a huge raging river that can take them the rest of their journey. The hunting dragons come upon them just as they take the barge into the river and under the mountain.

I was most impressed by the description of the caverns along the dwarf "road". I could easily visualize how majestic they were, the vastness of the open spaces, the confines of the river as it passed waterfalls under the mountain. Finally, the greatest piece was somewhere in the middle, where the north and south directions pass one over the other along gigantic stone sluiceways. At the point where they drop through the broken one on top, I was really wondering how Cephas, who secretly admitted to Jorgan that he had already been to the city, managed to get there without knowing about this break. But he has a secret of his own, of course.

The personage of Cephas is actually one of the old gods, who killed the dwarf and took his place, wanting the chaos of this world to continue, not wanting anybody to restore the spheres. It was he who set the stage of the play in the dream world, where the three races were able to meet, and not really comprehend what was going on. Presumably the serpent in Thux's dream is also another of the old gods. Anji, the waif of a girl who accompanied the minstrel who claimed to know about the ancient cities, turns out to be another of the gods, who spirits Cephas away so the humans can put the world back together. Caelith discovers his own bronze sphere, and enters the dream to see how Thux and Aislynn oriented theirs. Together, the three spheres work towards restoring magic to the world (I think that's what happened, though I'm not entirely sure -I'll have to wait for the next book to see the real effect). With the sphere and the dragon staffs, Jorgan has a change of heart, and he and Caelith bring the dragons under control.

The human quest was made up many characters, who were more interesting than most of the others in the other worlds. Margrave was fun, as he prattled on and on about history, complete with embellishments. Caelith's friend
Lovich had the funniest lines, and also kept Caelith in line more often than not, especially where his half-brother was concerned. Eryn used to be Caelith's lover, before he somehow left her in the middle of the night. She is the only one who makes an effort to like Jorgan, and gets him to open up a little, making him realize that despite his hatred for their magic and what they did to his world because of it, they can still be likable, and have the same feelings and desires that he has.
 

 
   

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