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Completing the trilogy begun with The Snow Spider (1987), Nimmo again draws on Welsh legend to parallel an ancient tragedy with the trauma of a soldier who has failed to save his men from a disastrous fire in Belfast. Major Evan Llr comes to the small Welsh village to recover from an apparently invisible wound--not his first; long ago, his brother died in a fall from a tree, and those who knew gentle Evan were mystified by his seeming to acquire his more popular but angry brother's personality. Gwyn, boy-magician of the other books, becomes aware that Evan is possessed by the spirit of Efnisien, tormented half-brother of the mighty Bran. Ultimately, Gwyn manages to send Efnisien peacefully on to the Otherworld, thus restoring Evan. The legend is complex; drawing on her now-extensive cast for her modern counterpart, Nimmo attempts, with mixed success, to parallel every detail. The best in this series, Orchard of the Crescent Moon (1989), drew strength from its insightful presentation of the real characters; here, the focus is more on the less convincing magic. Gwyn the boy, tinkering with spells that he only half understands, and Gwyn the mighty magician are not sufficiently melded; moreover, the action--rather than being a contemporary drama illuminated by its heroic prototype--seems forced into the legend's mold, while the promising idea of linking Efnisien with modern battle stress is overburdened with clever but less than fully digested detail. Acceptable, but disappointing.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1991
Page count: 201pp
Publisher: Dutton