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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The Outstretched Shadow, the first installment in a high-fantasy trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, takes place in a magic-powered realm where humanity is centered in and around the Golden City of Armethalieh, a sprawling metropolis ruled by an omnipotent -- and self-absorbed -- council of Mages.
Kellen is the 17-year-old son of the Arch-Mage of the council. All throughout his life, he has been taught that High Magic (magic created by the Mages) is the only true magic. Wild Magic -- a more natural, unpredictable form -- is evil, according to the council. But when Kellen stumbles across some highly illegal books about Wild Magic, his curiosity gets the better of him and he begins reading. When his father finds the books, he does more than ground young Kellen -- he banishes him from the city and sends stone golems out to hunt him down and kill him!
Fans of Lackey's Valdemar novels (Take a Thief, Exile's Honor, etc.) will undoubtedly enjoy this new, darker world where magic comes in many forms and can be used by virtually anyone -- if they're willing to pay the price. The Outstretched Shadow is first-class quest fantasy, and although the novel is a shelf-bending 600-plus pages, the story is surprisingly fast-paced. It's one of those books that, once opened, is nearly impossible to put down. A word of warning, though: Being the first book in a trilogy, this is just the beginning of a much larger story; and although the conclusion is satisfying, many questions are left unanswered. Paul Goat Allen