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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
They were as different as night and day -- an innocent sorceress and a notorious outlaw -- but now all Maura and Rath have is each other. After Maura's guardian, an old wizard named Langbard, is brutally murdered, the two are thrown together on a quest to find a legendary king and restore a conquered nation.
Umbria has long been under the yoke of the ruthless Han. So long, in fact, that many Umbrians have forgotten the Elderways -- the magic, myths, and belief systems that once gave the country its strength. Langbard is one of the few who still remember the old ways, and he has diligently passed his wisdom on to his ward, a sheltered orphan named Maura. When Langbard informs her that she is the Destined Queen who must find and waken the Waiting King to overthrow the Han, she doesn't accept her task -- until Langbard is killed by Han death-mages.
While Hale's plot -- the beautiful maiden and the handsome highwayman -- is somewhat predictable, the novel's real strength comes from the intensely intimate relationship that develops between the two as they are forced to help one another survive the unforgiving wilderness, legions of irate death-mages...and each other.
Although Hale is renowned for her works of historical romance, she has succeeded in writing a very readable high fantasy with powerful romantic undercurrents. Fast-paced and emotionally riveting, The Wizard's Ward will appeal not only to Hale's throngs of romance followers but also to fans of Patricia A. McKillip's and Juliet Marillier's folklore-powered fantasy novels. Paul Goat Allen