A gripping fantasy adventure, the first of a tetralogy, satisfies but does not surprise.
Raffi, the novice "scholar" sworn to the surly Relic Master Galen, finds little joy in their now-outlawed Order's sacred task of seeking out the ancient technology of the vanished Makers. After one such exploding "relic" stripped Galen of his mystical powers, a vicious thief lord bullies the pair into pursuing a member of the catlike Sekoi race into the post-apocalyptic city of Tasceron, which just might harbor a magic powerful enough to heal Galen. Meanwhile, the Watch, fanatical enemies of the Order, has set one of their murderous agents on their trail... Fisher takes a hoary science-fiction trope—the Lost Colony revering the ancestral "Starmen" as gods and their forgotten gadgets as holy objects—and melds it with the standard quest fantasy, complete with the archetypal naive-yet-powerful apprentice, the wise-but-bitter mentor, the roguish spy-with-a-heart-of-gold and the vaguely elfin alien. Yet her mastery of detailed and exotic worldbuilding, every scene hinting at intriguing secrets and untold back story, blends these speculative staples into a tale redolent with humor, wonder and suspense. Genre-savvy readers will undoubtedly predict every plot twist pages in advance; nonetheless, they will also demand the sequels.
Well-crafted storytelling provides more than the sum of its parts. (Fantasy. 11-16)