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|The Spirit Ring|
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Published by Baen Books, 1992)
Amazon.com: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.co.uk: hardcover, paperback
Highly Recommended by: Greg Slade
Lois McMaster Bujold is my favourite living author. But, much as her science fiction has been shamefully neglected by readers, her fantasy has been even more neglected. And the neglect of her fantasy is all the more shameful since it is among the very rare fantasy which is more than a Tolkien rip-off.
Set in mediaeval Italy, The Spirit Ring introduces us to a world in which magic works, and furthermore, white magic is actually sanctioned by the Roman Catholic church. Aside from going to confession, magicians have to have each new spell scrutinised by the clergy to ensure that it uses only white magic, and not black.
The protagonist, Fiametta, is the daughter of a magician, and forbidden, by reason of her gender, to become a magician herself, even though she demonstrably has a talent for it. But she longs to use magic to lead her to her noble and true love, and him to her, as she's pretty sure she already knows who it is. Then suddenly, her father and true love are killed, her father's magic is stolen, and his very soul is in jeopardy. Left alone and penniless in the middle of nowhere, Fiametta must regain her name, her property, her love, and her father's soul.
Told like only Bujold can tell it, this is story-telling of the highest order. Highly recommended. (September, 1998)
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