________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 7. . . .October 19, 2012


Shade & Sorceress. (The Last Days of Tian Di, Book One).

Catherine Egan.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2012.
279 pp., trade pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55050-514-6.

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Elza Tok was squatting perilously close to the edge of the rocky promontory. It was nearly a thirty-foot drop to the crashing surf below. The waves rolled in, one great blue swell after another, smacking against the cliff and bursting into white foam.

"I seriously doubt that Nat Fillion really jumped off here," she said.

"Adwin saw him," said Nell, twisting her glossy chestnut hair into a ponytail.

"Adwin worships Nat," said Elza. "They made it up."

Nell gave Elza a sideways look and shrugged, adjusting the straps of her swimsuit.

So what if he didnay jump? We can be the first, aye! What did you come here for if you dinnay want to do it?"

Elza chewed her lip. The south of the island, with its craggy cliffs and lack of clear trails was deserted even on a bright June day like today. They should have been at school, sitting at their desks and listening to Mentor Fist spit out arithmetic problems as if he couldn't stand the taste of them. It was a fair question: Why had she come, if she didn't want to do it? She wasn't scared, not really, but still.


Shade & Sorceress is the first book of "The Last Days of Tian Di" fantasy trilogy. A debut novel aimed at ages ten and above, it starts slowly but, after a couple of pages, soon becomes involved in the plot. The heroine, Elza is a 12-year-old who is unaware that her father has been trying to keep her hidden. One of his many secrets is that her mother was a famous sorceress who died in battle against the evil Nia, the Xia Sorceress. Nia is trapped in an Arctic prison, held there by the power of the Mancers who are afraid she is preparing to escape and cause chaos. The Mancers are searching for Elza as she is their only hope to create a Shang Sorceress, the opposing force to the Xia Sorceress. But Elza knows nothing about magic.

      Elza escapes from the Mancer's citadel when she learns that Nia has arranged to kidnap her father. With her friend Nell and a strange young boy, Charlie, Elza sets off to rescue her father, prepared to trade herself for his freedom if necessary. With well-rounded characters, an involved plot, and sufficient obstacles to deter any adult thrown in Elza's path, this story sends the heroine on her difficult way toward the Arctic prison in an attempt to free her father. She must also journey to an alternate world and face several difficulties, including a shape-shifter, dragons, witches, and the King of the Faeries.

      Shade & Sorceress is broken into three parts: The Citadel, Tian Xia and The Sorceress. In addition, there are two black and white maps in the front of the book: a Map of Tian Di, which is the alternate world, and a Map of Di Shang, which is Elza's world.

      Shade & Sorceress should appeal to young readers in search of adventure, a fantasy world, and a struggle between Good and Evil.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy and science fiction in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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