Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Andre Norton & Rosemary Edghill

Pub Date: April 14th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-86427-2
Publisher: Tor

Alternate-world historical romantic fantasy from veteran Norton (Scent of Magic, 1998, etc.) and new collaborator Edghill. In this alternate 1805, colonial America is governed by Lord Protector Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase was never purchased, and though Stuart king Henry IX rules England, Europe still trembles before the threat of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. At Mooncoign in Wiltshire, the Marchioness of Roxbury lies dying of consumption—but, as her mentor Dame Alecto Kennet reminds her, she swore a magical oath to serve the People and the Land. Somehow, the Marchioness must keep from dying. Orphan Sarah Cunningham of Baltimore, traveling to London on a vague pretext, is involved in an accident and knocked unconscious—and when she wakes up, everyone thinks she’s the Marchioness of Roxbury! Dame Alecto magically fills Sarah with knowledge of the Marchioness’s home and doings, including the news that she’s betrothed to the Duke of Wessex—King Henry’s most trusted spy. Poor Sarah finds the situation bewildering, but her independent, tomboyish upbringing has equipped her with the skills she—ll need to survive in Wessex’s duplicitous digs. Plots unfold rapidly. Wessex informs Sarah that an assassin is heading for the house, intending to kill a guest, a French Royalist leader. Meanwhile, King Henry aims to cement an alliance against Napoleon by wedding his spirited son, Prince James, to the equally mettlesome Princess Stephanie of Denmark, a development that Napoleon’s chief of secret police, Cardinal Talleyrand, works assiduously to thwart. Swirling intrigues, restrained magics, subtle spies, and dauntless heroines: jolly good.