(Hadley Rille Books)
by Jamie Lackey
The story opens with Beth, using a drop of her blood to do magic in secret, calling on the Left-Hand Gods. She’s spent her whole life hiding from being executed because of magic in her blood, and she’s tired of being hemmed in, living on the edge of the blighted lands caused by the last Magic Wars. Her mother worries she will be killed for being a magic-user, but Beth hears that the new queen is a magic user as well, so she casts a spell to break free of her confines.
Her spell allows Solas Brightwind, a mage sent from the capital, to get through the magical hedge of confusion around her home and summon her to the new queen. The source of the magic hedge around her home is her mother, who is not a left-handed magic user, and the way her mother uses magic is not only surprising; it’s one of the most innovative magical ideas I’ve seen in a long time.
The intrigue in the capital is not just between the humans, but between the Left-Hand Gods themselves. Beth becomes a willing ally and occasional avatar to one of those gods, as do others in the court, and it complicates their human lives immensely. They don’t need the complications, since most of the dragons are about to descend on them with war.
On the other hand: Beth. Why was a character in an alternate universe given a Judeo-Christian name like Elizabeth? It kept throwing me out of the story. But author Jamie Lackey more than made up for it with things like horses that had been oddly changed by magic in the blighted lands, talking dragons—some of whom sided with the humans—and converging tales of redemption, betrayal, anguish, love and friendship that all culminated in a very satisfying conclusion.