Tilja lives an idyllic life in the Valley, which has known peace for 18 generations, guarded to the north by a glacier, and to the south by a magic forest. But the magic is dying, and soon the horsemen from the north and the Empire's army from the south will ravage their land again. So Tilja and her grandmother, and Tahl and his grandfather, from the two families who have guarded the magic all this time, set forth on a quest to find the magician who helped their people all those generations ago. They are shadowed by a strange character who calls himself the Ropemaker: is he a friend, or their worst enemy? And why is Tilja's complete lack of magic so important?
This is a good tale, with a great sense of pace as the foursome travel through the enormous Empire on their quest. (At times, for some reason, I was reminded of the feel of certain areas of Barsoom.) The quest isn't to easy, for the most part, and it's not just a succession of plot coupons to gather. I enjoyed reading it, but I felt the ending was somewhat weak. A quest to restore the status quo in the Valley, yet precipitating earth shattering changes in the Empire, seems to lack a sense of proportion.
Six delightful fantasy tales from husband and wife authors Dickinson and McKinley. I've been a fan of McKinley for ages: her simple, dreamy prose evokes a wonderful feeling of character and place, and many of her heroines are the kind of down to earth sensible sorts one would like as a big sister, as well as being heroic champions. And Dickinson's style here, I discover, is similar. The blurb on the back cover states "They plan to write three other books in the Elementals sequence" -- I certainly hope so.
Five more delightful elemental fantasy tales from husband and wife authors Dickinson and McKinley, here on the theme of fire. The stories of Phoenix and First Flight are great; Hellhound is good. I'm looking forward to the remaining tales of Earth and Air: I hope it won't take another seven years for each of these to appear!