Extension of an out-of-print fantasy series (The Spell of the Black Dagger, etc.) from the author of Dragon Weather (1999), etc. A mysterious object plummets to the ground, broadcasting a potent wave of magic. In Ethshar of the Spices, those affected experience dreadful nightmares and abruptly acquire telekinetic and other mental powers. Some are overcome by the new magic and fly off toward the focus of the disturbance, never to return. Others trigger the Night of Madness—which young Lord Hanner does his best to ameliorate, helping confused new “warlocks,” restraining criminals, reassuring terrified citizens. Hanner’s ambitious uncle, government bigwig Lord Faran, having himself acquired warlock powers, clashes with Ethshar’s ruler Lord Azrad. Powers here are strictly separated: magicians may acquire only a single type of power; those involved in government may not possess magic powers at all. Lord Azrad, seeing a threat, orders all the new warlocks put to death, but his soldiers lack the means to enforce the edict. Faran and the more temperate Hanner appeal to the powerful Wizards Guild. The Wizards, though alarmed by developments, remain noncommittal. Faran challenges Azrad outright and is killed by a hired wizard. Hanner, now in charge of the warlocks, somehow must persuade Azrad and the Wizards to reach a compromise.
Fine ideas and fascinating developments despite the plodding prose: like Dave Duncan without the narrative sparkle.