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VOYAThere is no sophomore slump for Constable in book two of The Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy, following The Singer of All Songs (Scholastic, 2002/VOYA April 2002). When Calwyn and her friends rescue the prisoners of a pirate ship, one turns out to be Heben, a young man from Merithuros in search of his sister and brother, outcast because of their power of chantment. Heben enlists the chanters in his quest to find his brother and sister, and they set off for Merithuros and the desert-bound Palace of Cobwebs. Here the lavish, idle courtiers while away their time, unaware of the price of their elegant existence. Darrow is off on his own mission and returns to Ravamey after the others have gone. He travels also to Merithuros, but returns to the Black Palace, the place where kidnapped and outcast children are taken to learn chantment. The story alternates between Calwyn and Darrow, with much of Darrow's sections concerned with flashbacks to his early years. These flashbacks tend to drag a little, slowing down the first third of the book somewhat. Still the plot accelerates on its own, rolling to its dramatic climax, which is only achieved with great sacrifice, and overall the story is compelling and appealing. Constable's characterization shines throughout. Her characters already have clearly delineated and individual personalities, and she develops them further here. This title is a strong bridge for the trilogy, leaving loose ends to be resolved in its conclusion. Libraries who already have the first book need this title; others need to buy both books. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Scholastic, 314p., Ages 12 to 18.