CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 14 . . . . March 18, 2005
Summoned to Destiny is an anthology of eight original fantasy stories, written by eight different authors with a wide range of writing experience. There are three men and five women writers, six authors from Canada with one from the USA and one from New Zealand. For two of the writers, this is the first time they have been published. There is a similar theme running through the stories. The heroes or heroines are all teenagers, with various typical problems, in search of something that may change their lives, and magic plays a part in their fate. Whatever happens, it is part of a life-changing learning experience. The stories vary in length, from seven pages for "When Dragons Dream" up to 98 pages for "The Colors of Augustine." This book is the first in a projected "Realms of Wonder" series.
The first story is "Tangled Pages." The title refers to the youth Raal, an apprentice Page, harassed by the girl Dara, another apprentice Page who dislikes him. Raal flees to the Draden Wood, which is, unknown to him, the scene of a magical exercise that could cause him serious harm. The Head Page, Jael, has to set out to rescue him, with the help of a Master Magi. They find more than they expected. It is a time of magic in the City of Lights.
The second tale is "Stormsong." A rock fortress carved out of caverns is inhabited by a cult of severe women who use magic dances and gems to protect themselves from jealous wizards. A rebellious girl, Amnaedra, doesn't follow the rules. She searches through the caverns, hunted by something large and bat-like, with fangs. And there is a question of who within the fortress is the spy for the wizard Tharammus. The wizard wants to bring and end to the power of the women's magic and destroy them. Amnaedra may be the key to it all.
The third is "Riverbend." Alicja has a deal with her father. She has to find a Bard willing to apprentice her within the next two days or give up on her music as a career and return to work on the farm. In a distant village, she meets two elders, Cal and Alberin, who send her on a journey to the capital city as part of a delegation to solve their problem, famine, and her problem too. She has a hidden magic talent that is connected to her music.
The fourth story in the anthology, and the example illustrated in the excerpt, is "The Colors of Augustine." When we first meet Joseph and Caroline, they are 12-year-old orphans living at the Westerfield Foundling Hall. Madam Dagleish runs the Foundling Hall with an iron hand. Many of the famous City of Augustine Painters come from Westerfield. Their mysterious portraits often show what may happen in the future. Joseph is timid and color blind, an artist with charcoal and pencils; Caroline is brash, and when they leave the Foundling Hall three years later as apprentice painters to Master Painter Havernell, they discover there is both good and evil out in the world. Count Thermann may not be the gentleman that he outwardly appears. After a harrowing adventure, both children discover their destiny in this spellbinding tale of weary Kings, devious Counts, and Master Painters.
The fifth tale in the book is "White Shadow." The heroine in this story of shapeshifters is 15-years-old and in search of her animal self and a power known as the Other. Fearing failure, she wanders until she is confronted by the Other and finds what she is looking for in an unexpected source. She is nameless until the end of the story, when she becomes known as Shikari.
"Offering of Trust," the sixth story introduces us to dragons. Shen is a one-armed youth in a world almost destroyed by the red dragons. Only the intervention by the golden dragons, who attacked the red, saved what was left of the human civilization. The cost was high, with the golden dragons unable to return to their own realm and Shen's mother one of the many dead. The humans now fear all dragons. Then the golden dragons come to them with one of their member who is dying. There is mistrust on both sides. Shen finds himself caught in the middle, and it is up to him to find a possible solution.
The seventh is "A Prayer of Salt and Sand." The land has suffered a great flood, and only a few islands remain. A young girl, Asha, age 14, is a failed initiate of the goddess Navelle. After five vigils seeking contact with the goddess, Asha is confused and feeling hopeless. She secretly takes a small boat and sails away from her adoptive family to a neighboring island. There, she discovers someone with more serious problems, a girl bound up by thieves and thrown into the sea. She rescues the girl and finds what she is looking for.
The final tale is "When Dragons Dream." A dragon, Brynelle, dreams sunsets, listens to the children telling stories, then guards their dreams at night. The dragon dreams to keep the "Stealer of Souls" away from the children. But Brynelle is growing weaker, and the Stealer of Souls is growing stronger. One of the children, young Eleanor, tells stories too but is working on a special story. When the Stealer of Souls comes to slay the dragon and steal the children's souls, he finds his match in a grown-up Eleanor.
This collection should appeal to anyone who enjoys short fantasy stories, courage, magic, and growing up, from young adult up to adult.
Ronald Hore, involved with the Canadian Authors Association and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.