SPIRIT FOX by Mickey Zucker & Jennifer Wingert Reichert

SPIRIT FOX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

New fantasy from Reichert (The Children of Wrath, p. 539) and newcomer Wingert. At birth, the folk of the High Marchlands sometimes form ""spirit-links"" with animals: the participants enjoy lifetimes extended threefold, but if one partner dies, the other usually dies of grief. Following a heavenly Joyous Reunion, peace on earth has been declared, so weapons training and battle preparations are forbidden. At the fort Dorlach Tor, Lord Stane's daughter Kiarda is born spirit-linked to a fox cub. The cub dies immediately but Stane conceals this. Years later, a bewildered Kiarda starts involuntarily shapeshifting into a vixen. Her secret love is the Horsemaster's son, Maddock, but when he finds her naked in the snow after a jaunt as a vixen, Stane accuses him of rape. Kiarda herself remembers nothing. Stane also discovers that Maddock has been trained to fight by the outcast Swordmaster Gaer. So, threatened with execution, Maddock kills in self-defense and runs off. Various complications ensue, including a stealthy invasion of the Marchlands. The magic-powered intruders hate and despise animals and intend to destroy all the spirit-links. Maddock joins them after talking with their virtuous priest Brother Honesty, convinced that the evil-spirit Dark Court has corrupted the Marchlands. Kiarda, meanwhile, gives birth to stillborn twins; they're half fox, so she knows that Maddock didn't rape her. And when the invaders attack a nearby settlement, Kiarda realizes that the assailants are not Dark Court, as she had assumed, but enemies. The defenders capture Honesty and show him why his assumptions about animals and magic are wrong. But can they halt the invasion? And will Kiarda and Maddock ever get together? Promising work with serviceable ideas, but wantonly overstuffed and lacking focus. What with characters that sound and act like teenagers, its expected audience is clear.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: DAW