Another entry in Rawn’s fantasy series (Thornlost, 2014, etc.) about a magical theater company in a sort-of Elizabethan, multispecies setting.
For more than two years, Cade, the heart of theater troupe Touchstone, has consciously denied and rejected his prescient visions, or “Elsewhens,” out of a misplaced desire to be more like everybody else. As a result, Touchstone has lost its creative edge, and tensions between Cade and the other players—Mieka, Jeska and Rafe—cause grumbling and dissent. Finally, Mieka confronts Cade and forces him to admit that denying his gift is destroying both himself and the troupe. Meanwhile, in other developments, somebody’s experimenting with using magic to blow things up—but why? Cade learns that his younger brother, Dery, has the magic ability to detect gold—a very dangerous talent. Touchstone finds that their agent is not, perhaps, the most reliable of folk. Princess Miriuzca’s brother, Ilesko—they’re both from a land that rejects the use of magic—presents a play without magic (a thinly disguised Faust) and impresses Touchstone despite their skepticism. Then, in one of his Elsewhens, Cade sees the royal castle exploding. He knows the futures he glimpses can be changed. But who would believe him? His deadly enemy, the Archduke Cyed Henick, that’s who. The plotting and politics are well-managed if somewhat thin and shadowy. Readers will already be thoroughly familiar with the background. And the youthful characters do begin to develop some maturity, though their performances are still fueled by drugs, with heavy drinking and more drugs to relax.
A decidedly improved outing, much more inventive and involving than the previous.