The fates of four countries hang in the balance, and only an apprentice magicworker can save the day.
For the ultimate in bittersweet feelings, fans must confront the final novel of master fantasist Jones, posthumously completed by her sister Ursula. In a little stone house on the island of Skarr, Aileen’s being raised as an apprentice Wise Woman and magicworker by her aunt Beck. When Aunt Beck is sent on a quest by the High King to rescue a kidnapped prince, Aileen tags along. Their journey takes them across all the little islands of their world (a wee European-style fantasyland that stretches from skirling pipes and heather on Skarr to olives and grapes on Gallis). Quiet at first, Aileen is forced to come into her own when her aunt suffers a mishap. Now, a band of ragtag adventurers, including an invisible cat named Plug-Ugly, depends on Aileen to lead them, as they take nearly every transportation method in the fantasyland guidebook: sailing ships, donkey carts, floating wagons and hot air balloons. Affectionate chaos and loving revelations follow, forming a classic, joyful screwball comedy.
Aileen says of one of her friends, “[w]e stay awhile with each other, then part.” If that’s all we get, we can be grateful for the while we have. (Fantasy. 10-13)