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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Spellsong War by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

The Spellsong War is the second installment in Modesitt's Spellsong Cycle series of fantasy books dealing with an opera soprano that has been magically transported from her job and family on Earth to a medieval setting on a world called Erde where magic is called upon by music together with lyrics.

Anna, the soprano turned sorceress, is now the regent of a good sized portion of the land but it is poor and dry, even though her actions at the end of the previous book has brought more rain to Defalk, her regency. As regent, she wants to do her honest best to make Defalk a better place, but Erde, for the most part, is a male-dominated society where women, at best, are useful props for the lord or consort to which she is loyal. Anna's leadership clashes with this predominant society and she is forced to go from city to city demanding loyalty, usually using sorcery, spellsong.

The chapters are short and digestible although there's not much plot to this book. There's just going from hold to hold, destroying some and convincing others to be loyal to the regency so that it can make Defalk a better place. The author likes to describe nonverbal motions to help the dialogue...a lot! Sometimes, especially in this series, the reader can be drowned nonverbal communications that it's not always clear what is going on. This happens especially in his short chapters showing short scenes with the enemy, discussing strategy. I usually skipped quickly through those chapters even though the point of them was to foreshadow events and intentions.

Anna has a what you could call a crush on one of the Lords of Defalk, Jecks. He is accompanying Anna in her travels to be a guide to the politics of the land. He resembles Sean Connery or Robert Mitchum. She spends the entire book wondering if she will ever be free to pursue him.

I don't know if I will continue to read this series. It'll be a low priority whether or not I buy and read them. I'm sure that there is much more to come but this book as left me wondering if too much is being made in this series. It's a unique magical system but it is also getting old. She is discovering new methods too slowly it seems. This could be because she has no guide and is having to figure things out on her own. There are new enemies that have not yet been conquered. The reader can see that coming in later books.

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