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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Madeline Howard's debut novel is nothing short of spectacular! With the poetic grace of an Ursula K. Le Guin tale and the ambitious scope of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time sequence, The Hidden Stars has it all: fully realized characters, nonstop adventure, an epic quest, and a marvel-laden realm to rival Tolkien's Middle-earth.
The novel is set in a world irrevocably altered centuries earlier by a savage war between wizards and mages that ended in their mutual destruction. Now the Empress Ouriána rules an ever-expanding empire with dark sorcery, cunning, and fear. A self-proclaimed goddess, Ouriána has a simple objective: to rule the world and remake it in her image. With a group of 12 powerful Furiádhin priests -- nightmarish sorcerers mutated through magic -- leading her armies, her diabolical dream is coming to fruition.
But somewhere in the world, hidden away from Ouriána's reach, is a young girl, a singular child of prophecy, destined to put an end to Ouriána's tyrannical rule -- if she can stay alive long enough to do it. As kingdom after kingdom fall to Ouriána's armies, a band of heroic adventurers sets out to find the girl before it's too late.
Not unlike Le Guin's Earthsea saga, The Hidden Stars -- the first book in Howard's Rune of Unmaking trilogy -- is a lyrical and delightfully engaging tale that can be enjoyed by adults and young adults alike. Readers with anger management issues, however, should be prepared for an abrupt cliff-hanger ending that will leave them impatiently awaiting the next installment. Paul Goat Allen