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KLIATTThe first of a series, this volume traces the relationship between a country soldier named Rabbit and a Faena mountain cat named Laurel, neither of whom are what they appear to be. Laurel helps Rabbit's unit find its way out of the mountains, and then enlists the unit's help to prevent a war. Yes, Laurel speaks their language; he also walks like a human, although he is magical. Borderland-born Rabbit is found to be of royal blood, and a mage in training who has escaped from his evil mentor. The troop travels to the main city of Iversterre where they find more magic and mischief. The king is part elfin, and military officers begin transforming into magical animals. Some of the clergy, soldiers, and politicos condemn this magic, yet become pawns in the hands of evil. What with the longtime grudge between the south and the northern Borderlands, and between the magicals and the humans, war seems inevitable. Can Rabbit control his growing powers and avert disaster? No one knows. While this is a long book, it's a fast read because of the suspenseful plot and changing characters. Rabbit's self-development and knowledge are particularly satisfying. Too many "uhs" dot the dialog, but when the characters are articulate the fun begins. (A Borderlands Novel). KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Penguin, Roc, 546p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Dr. Lesley Farmer