Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyBerika is a shepherd from Gorse who wants to avoid marriage to Hirmin, a man disfigured in body and mind, and she prays for any way out of it. What she gets is Dart, who might be a fetch, a kind of demon, but is in fact the long-lost brother of the Donitor, Fenklare's political leader. Berika and Dart leave Gorse to find their destiny, but suddenly Berika is reluctant to go, in one of many mood shifts the young woman undergoes for the sole purpose of moving the plot along. Indeed, the entire novel consists of things just happening for no reason save to advance the plot. The wooden sword of the title does not appear until Dart needs it to kill Hirmin, after which it is more or less ignored. Once Hirmin is dead, Abbey (coeditor of the Thieves' World series) doesn't seem to know what to do with Berika, who floats through the book being alternately worried, confused and manipulated by Driskolt, the Donitor's son, who wants revenge for humiliation at Dart's hands. The characters are neither well drawn nor sympathetic; the plot is full of contrivances and the prose poorly constructed. While the ending is inconclusive, no sequel is announced. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library JournalYA-- This would merely be a throwaway setup for the second book in a fantasy series if it weren't for the absorbing characters who are developed. Berika ought to be a stock peasant with a calling, but somehow she rises above simple explanations by the tragedies that shape her fate. Her need to escape from her limitations is not just theoretical, but a life-and-death struggle. Similarly, Dart is not just the handsome savior prince with a mission, but a confused man without a past and imperative drives he cannot understand. Both figures are compelling in their all-too-human failings and conflicts. This purchase may commit readers to following a series, but it has virtues that make it a standout in the genre.
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