Arabian Nights–like fantasy, sequel to Bridge of Dreams (not reviewed).
For years, the water mages of peaceful Sund kept the military empire of Maras at bay. Then the Marasi built a magical bridge across the river that separates them; when Sund fell, the Marasi executed most of Sund’s mages. The bridge is maintained by the dreams of young children—hostages from noble Marasi families—but the effort damages their minds. Worse, the bridge glows with evil magic (the “Shine”), transforming those who come under its influence into brawny but mindless “dogtooths.” Issel, a young beggar and budding water mage, seeks a means of destroying the bridge in order to free his people. In Maras, Jendre, trapped in the Sultan’s harem, seeks a way to release her younger sister, Sidië, a dreamer. Jendre’s lover, Salem, the pasha’s son, is castrated on the orders of the sultan’s mother; soon, Jendre herself becomes the slave of vicious boy-sultan Mehmet. When he attempts rape, Jendre lashes out. As punishment, she is sewn into a weighted sack and dropped into the river. Issel, who has led a small band from Sund to Maras to try and destroy the dream-magic, rescues her. With his growing powers, Issel kills a sorcerer but cannot penetrate the deepest magic. He resolves to stay in Maras and try to drive the Marasi out of the city. Jendre, meanwhile, goes to Sund to search for Armina, a mysterious Marasi refugee with strange talents and an affinity for dream-magic.
The plot is serviceable and the setting colorful, but the narrative is hampered by an obtrusive writing style.