Twin sisters Elizabeth and Brigid "Bri" Drystan are pulled from Denver into another dimension in this overcrowded fourth installment of the Summoning (after 2007's Protector of the Flight). The twins have the gift of "healing hands," and while Elizabeth works in traditional medicine, Bri has been exploring global alternative healing methods. Recently reunited, the two find themselves unexpectedly propelled through a rainbow-lit portal to the mystical, musical world of Lladrana, filled with flying horses, magic mirrors and seductive knights. The sisters can't return to Earth until they heal the people afflicted by a mysterious disease, and by then they may not want to go. Elizabeth must decide whether Chevalier Faucon Creusse is a better match than the lover she left on Earth, while Bri falls for her protector, Sevair Masif. Despite some too-cute prose ("there is a keep-cold twiddle-spell"; "I am Sinafinal, a fey-coo-cu"), Owens's colorful epic has some charming moments. (Jan.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Keepers of the Flameby Robin D. Owens
Two sisters born to serve The sorcerers of Lladrana have already Summoned three women to help fight the evil attacking their world. Yet their fourth Summoning brings the unexpectedtwin sisters. And ones with strong ties to Earth.Both have a special gift to heal. But while Brigid Drystan has explored that gift through unorthodox means, Elizabeth/b>… See more details below
Two sisters born to serve The sorcerers of Lladrana have already Summoned three women to help fight the evil attacking their world. Yet their fourth Summoning brings the unexpectedtwin sisters. And ones with strong ties to Earth.Both have a special gift to heal. But while Brigid Drystan has explored that gift through unorthodox means, Elizabeth has poured herself into getting a medical degree and denying her powers.Now, stuck in a strange land, fighting a plague sent by the Dark to weaken Lladrana, they must use all their resources to save lives. And one twin will risk her own on an experiment that might doom them both.
Read an ExcerptGuardian of Honor
By Robin D. Owens Luna Books
Copyright © 2007 Robin D. Owens
All right reserved.
Lladrana, early spring
When the Star Etalla glows bright and moves through the constellation Caen; when mists envelop the stone circle high atop Archer's Mound; when the face of the Moon is hidden - then the walls between worlds are thin, and you may Summon saviors - or demons - from the Exotique Land. Send the Call. Choose well. - Spring Prophecy
The rush of rain hit the stone pavement with hissing, tinny pings. Swordmarshall Thealia hurried through the Castle's cloister walk, ignoring the silver fall outside the open, pointed arches. The incessant damp weather made her aging joints ache even under three layers of robes. She'd once loved to watch the rain. Once. Now she avoided looking at it, listening to it, and wished she could avoid smelling the miasma that rose from it.
She'd been called the tough realist, harping on the harsh facts of Lladrana's desperate situation, demanding action - but she couldn't face the rain anymore.
Dread gripped her. She'd just stopped at the map room. She knew it was obsessive, checking the status of the land every morning and evening, but she couldn't help herself. She always hoped against hope that the tide of inhuman evil wasn't creeping into her country. That morning especially she'd prayed something had changed, so the Marshalls wouldn't haveto risk the Summoning tonight.
A futile hope. She'd scanned the animated map of Lladrana, noting the breaks in the magical boundary set by her ancestors against the Dark. She'd counted each glowing white fence-pillar. Even as she had watched, two pillars had blackened and vanished. The loss was escalating and the new gap in the northern defenses stretched miles.
Fingers of the first taint of evil, the small nasty poisonous creatures signified by gray sludge, slogged to the border - and across. Stirrings of the more terrible horrors - slayers, renders, soul-suckers massed, ready to advance to the new breach. Chill fear had penetrated her bones.
Now with fumbling fingers Thealia drew the heavy key through the slits of her robes and stuck it into the iron keyhole of the thick wooden door made of grown tree trunks - sacred oaks ritually harvested in bygone times. The door opened smoothly, though she hadn't said the spell or pushed her shoulder against it. The Knight Lord of the Marshalls must be inside. She wondered if he had brought his brother - his Shield - too.
Her lips thinned in irritation. She'd wanted a moment or two in the chamber to soak in the sense of serenity that lived nowhere else in Lladrana. He couldn't appreciate the balm, even if he felt it.
Straightening her spine and shoulders, she set her steps carefully to glide with grace into the round stone Temple. The scent of rosemary and sage welcomed her.
Swordmarshall Reynardus paced the sanctuary, tall, broad-shouldered, the silver streak of hair at his right temple turned golden with age. Not even a small paunch softened the man. Lines bracketed his mouth. They had deepened over the past year as the Marshalls realized the ancient fence was failing and that they had no idea how to recharge the shielding posts, make new ones or lace the magical energy between them. Inhuman evil encroached upon Lladrana with sharp, monstrous teeth.
But didn't evil always encroach? It was Thealia's job to make sure the Marshalls guarded and defended Lladrana - even when the steps might be drastic and deadly to herself and others.
Reynardus frowned and stopped near the eastern point of the pentacle, his robe settled above the ankles of his metal boots.
"Tonight is the time." His voice echoed through the stone room, sounding as sharp as his footsteps.
"All is ready." Her gesture encompassed the freshly incised pentacle, the altar with the rainbow of glowing gemstone crystal chimes, the tools, the fruit and wine, the enormous silver gong. She hoped her quilted overdress concealed the shiver of apprehension that flowed along her spine like the touch of cold steel.
Reynardus scowled, thick black brows casting his dark eyes farther into shadow. "We will be using a great deal of energy for such a chancy enterprise, perhaps too much energy. Some of us may die."
Thealia inclined her head and folded her hands at her waist. The peak of her coif made her nearly as tall as he, and she was more than equal in Power. She had the golden streaks of age and Power at both temples. "The Spring Song foretold that only a Summoning has acceptable odds of success in beating back the horrors and saving Lladrana. We must try despite personal danger," she pointed out once again in their interminable discussion, wishing her more patient husband were here for this final preritual check of the spelldesign and equipment.
"I don't like the idea of draining ourselves completely or setting our lives in the hands of a stranger," Reynardus said.
Of course he didn't. A Summoning would be conducted by all the Marshalls, and guided by her husband and herself - out of Reynardus's control. The results too would be out of his control.
Reynardus tromped over to the white marble, blessing-carved fireplace that heated the room. He held his hands to the warmth and shot her a glance. "We are gifted with six opportunities to Summon Exotiques in the next two years. Why not wait?" he grumbled.
Thealia stiffened. Because they were desperate. Because it was their only hope. Because something needed to be done now! She'd argued so time and again. Thealia unclenched her teeth and managed a casual lift of her shoulders. "If you insist we wait, the rest of us will expect you to pay the price of such a gamble. We will want your Chevaliers dispersed to our lands to fight any slayers and renders that infiltrate our estates while we wait for your approval. Will you hazard your own domain until the next time for Summoning?"
He strode around the pentacle, his piercing gaze tracing the shining line of quicksilver. Clank. Clank. Clank. Clank.
No, he didn't like anything out of his control. Or anyone. His treatment of his grown sons had demonstrated that to all of Lladrana. He'd tried to control them with money and with Power, to form their lives as he pleased - and had driven them both away.
He might not be able to bend the Summoned Exotique to his will either. Exotiques were notoriously strange and as unpredictable as they were powerful. Thealia cheered a little.
"We Summon an Exotique female, correct?" He rubbed his hands.
"So the Spring Song advised." Thealia suppressed an urge to roll her eyes. He obviously thought women were more easily intimidated than men. She pursed her lips. He never should have married a spineless girl of the Chiladee family. Thealia had said so at the time. "Yes, a woman," she said.
"Hrrumph. Hopefully someone who won't want to return to their own world, like the last one did a century ago. Wasted effort."
Excerpted from Guardian of Honor by Robin D. Owens Copyright © 2007 by Robin D. Owens. Excerpted by permission.
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