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. Volume VIII Number 5 . . . . November 2, 2001
Linda Smith concludes her "Freyan Trilogy" by placing Kerstin Speller, Freya's first female wizard, in the middle of a potential war. Kerstin's actions in the first two novels, which are explained in a prologue and expanded as the plot requires, have changed the way her nation, Freya, and the neighbouring country of Uglessia interact. Kerstin arrives back in Freya in time to enter the College of Wizards. She has spent the past year in the Misty Isles where Rilka, a master healer, became Kerstin's teacher before marrying Kerstin's father. Kerstin is now intending to help smooth the entry into the College for several Uglessians who will be entering Freya for the first time under a flag of peace. Kerstin is perceived by many Freyans to be a traitor for withholding a rainmaking spell from her countrymen until they agreed to direct some of the rain to Uglessia. Kerstin's actions were the start of a tentative peace between the two countries, and the presence of four Uglessians in the College of Wizards is meant to promote the peace. Unfortunately, several students begin terrorizing the students with progressively more dangerous practical jokes until one of the Uglessian students is seriously hurt, and the nations are again brought to the brink of war.
Smith's solid writing and taut plot bring these two countries to life. Her characters continue to be well-rounded, with convincing and well-defined attributes and intentions. Misunderstandings and misapprehensions about different races are all too relevant in modern society and make The Turning Time a novel that is suitable both as an enjoyable read and as a starting point for a discussion about cultures and beliefs. The secondary plot about Kerstin's unrequited love for her friend Alaric, who is in love with one of the Uglessians, may serve to entice young readers of romance but is not overemphasized enough to turn off male readers or fantasy fans.
Betsy Fraser is a Youth Services Librarian with Calgary Public Library.
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