Jumbo-sized stand-alone fantasy from the author of the Secret Texts trilogy (Courage of Falcons, 2000, etc.).
For three long, bitter centuries the Magics and Conventionals of the loose-knit, republican Tonk Confederacy have fought against the similarly equipped monarchist Eastils. Now, to general disbelief, Feegash diplomats have arrived to broker a peace. As the peace talks begin, the Eastils send Tonk-speaking warrior Gair on a secret mission to slaughter the delegates—a plot detected and thwarted by Talyn and her Magic corps through their group-think clairvoyance and other powers. For his pains Gair is captured, thrown into a dungeon and forgotten, while Tonks and Eastils agree to the Feegash proposals; Feegash mercenaries disarm the Conventionals, and many Magics accept high-paying jobs in remote lands. Gair’s comrade-at-arms, Snow Grell, persuades Talyn to help locate and free Gair. Then she meets handsome Feegash diplomat Skirmig, to whom she feels a peculiar, savage attraction. He offers to teach her Feegash magic. Talyn learns quickly, but soon, unable to resist Skirmig’s mind-controlling powers, becomes his slave. Finally, the Tonks grasp that they’ve been invaded and conquered—too late: none can resist Skirmig. Now Gair dreams that Talyn is in grave danger and gallops off to rescue her. Talyn learns how to circumvent Skirmig’s horrid magic, yet she and Gair remain mortal enemies. Can they set aside their profound hostilities and somehow turn the tide?
For some reason, the narrative alternates between first-person Talyn and third-person Gair. Still, it’s an unusually thoughtful work, unsparing of detail, with characters who must solve their own problems before they save the world.