THE WATERBORN by J. Gregory Keyes


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 First of an ambitious fantasy series entitled Children of the Changeling, full of ghosts, gods, magic, and mischief. The Changeling, the powerful river god of the city Nhol, has absorbed or driven off all the other gods for miles around; his waters flow in the blood of Nhol's royal family and confer magic powers. At puberty, the royals are tested by priests, after which they move into the royal apartments--or vanish. When her friend disappears, young dark-eyed Princess Hezhi vows to find out why. According to rumor, the disappeared ones are banished to an ancient flooded tunnel system beneath the palace. But then Hezhi feels the first stirrings of magic within her and suspects that the power will bring her trouble, perhaps even cause her to be exiled. Secretly, she prays for a hero to help her and dreams of a pale-skinned barbarian. Meanwhile, far away, the pale-skinned farmer's son Perkar comes of age and, falling in love with the local stream- goddess, swears to kill her enemy--the Changeling. After various adventures, he dreams of a dark-eyed girl, acquires a magic sword, and ends up unable to escape from a boat controlled by the Changeling, which is heading inexorably for Nhol. Finally, Hezhi investigates the mysterious flooded tunnels, only to discover that she's fated to turn into a ghastly monster--unless she can evade the Changeling's influence. A well-constructed, perky, imaginative debut that, even if the details aren't always rigorously worked out, manages to avoid the usual fantasy stereotypes. (First printing of 75,000; author tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-345-40393-2
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996


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