The Barnes & Noble Review
Sarah Zettel, renowned for science fiction novels like Reclamation (which won the Locus Award for Best First Novel), Playing God, and The Quiet Invasion, tries her hand at fantasy with A Sorcerer's Treason.
The story begins when a lonely Wisconsin lighthouse keeper named Bridget Lederle rescues a strangely dressed man who has been shipwrecked on the shores of Lake Superior. The man, named Valin Kalami, claims to be a sorcerer from a magical realm called Isavalta and tells Bridget that she is destined to play a part in saving the parallel world and its people from destruction. After the enigmatic Valin tells her things about herself that no one else could possibly know, she agrees to accompany the sorcerer across the Land of Death and Spirit to Isavalta. Once there, she begins to learn much about the dangerous power struggle within the magic saturated realm -- and much more about herself.
Fans of Zettel's science fiction novels should be pleasantly surprised with her excursion into the fantasy genre, which draws heavily on Chinese, Indian, and Russian folklore. She continues the story of Bridget in The Usurper's Crown and will complete her Isavalta trilogy with The Firebird's Vengeance, scheduled for release in 2004. Paul Goat Allen
Alternating between her lighthouse-keeper heroine's native Wisconsin and the magic-ridden world of Isavalta, SF author Zettel's (Playing God) first fantasy novel, despite a plodding plot, should please readers eager to leave this dull world of ours behind. In the year 1899, during a gale on Lake Superior, Bridget Lederle rescues a lone sailor, Valin Kalami, who proves to be a visitor from an ethereal realm called Isavalta, the home of Bridget's birth-father, who impregnated her mother during a brief stay on Earth. Her Isavaltan blood explains Bridget's sporadic ability to see both the past and future. Kalami persuades Bridget to travel to his dazzling world, where he is Lord Sorcerer to the Dowager Empress, Medeoan Edemskoidoch Nacheradavosh (a name typical of the book's tongue-twisting nomenclature derived from Russian and various Asian languages), who refuses to hand over rule of her kingdom to her mysteriously ailing son, the Emperor Mikkel, and his new bride, Empress Ananda. Intrigues abound, magic lies hidden within threads, a fox becomes a powerful "Vixen" and the dowager keeps a caged phoenix capable of engulfing the world in flames. Since the old woman simply won't relinquish power, Bridget must fight both her and her traitorous sorcerer. Villains may menacingly twist figurative moustaches, but none seriously threatens the courageous heroine's virtue. This sweet-tempered melodrama will appeal mainly to younger female fantasy fans, who will be sure to welcome the forthcoming sequel. (Apr. 24) Forecast: Zettel's established reputation (1997's Fool's War was runner-up for the Philip K. Dick Award for Best Paperback Original SF Novel), blurbs from such fantasy stars as Sara Douglass, Andre Norton and Elizabeth Haydon, plus national advertising and regional author appearances, will ensure a strong start. Support from romance fans may help keep up the momentum. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
On a dark and stormy night in 1899, Bridget Lederle, Keeper of the Lighthouse on Sand Island in Lake Superior, pulls an oddly dressed man from the wreckage of his boat. He turns out to be Valin Kalami, lord sorcerer to her Grand Majesty, the Dowager Empress of Isavalta. He tells Bridget that he has come to take her back to Isavalta, where her powers are needed to save the country from the machinations of the Dowager's new daughter-in-law, Ananda. Bridget, who has borne and lost an illegitimate baby, is the subject of gossip and scorn by the local people. Lonely and grieving the death of her parents, she decides she has nothing to lose and sets sail with Kalami through the land of Death and Spirits to his strange snowbound world. As her own magical powers begin to unfold, Bridget finds the royal court to be a seething tangle of intrigues, schemes, and double-dealing. Bridget must discover whom she can trust and who she really is. Zettel, winner of science fiction's Locus Award for Reclamation (Warner, 1996/VOYA December 1996), turns her hand to fantasy in this first book of a projected trilogy. Rich descriptions; well-integrated elements of Russian, Chinese, and Indian mythologies; plots within plots; conniving villains; spunky heroines; and even a hint of romance to come will easily convince fantasy lovers that Zettel is at home in this new genre. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S A/YA (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; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, Tor, 528p,
Bridget Lederle, a single unwed mother in 1899 Wisconsin (an unenviable position even though her baby girl died shortly after birth), has taken over the keeping of the lighthouse at Sand Island from her deceased father. Bridget has always had meaningful dreams but when the sailor she rescues from a small, strangely painted foundering boat tells her she will play a key role in the power struggle in the mystical realm of Isavalta, she is stunned. With nothing to keep her at Sand Island, she accompanies him to Isavalta and immediately becomes embroiled in myriad intrigues in the Dowager Empress' court. She grabs the attention of many outside, more insidious characters, like the Vixen, the firebird, and even denizens of the Land of Death and Spirit. She also begins to test her own magical powers and abilities that are prodigious. The ending (or non-ending) sets up the sequel in which Bridget must return to Isavalta if she wants to control her own destiny. An unusual combination of cultures: Lake Superior and a pseudo Russian-Chinese folkloric realm. The separate yet intertwined strands of the plot sometimes get confusing, but all do come together at the end. This will be best for mature fantasy fans looking for something a tad different. KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Tor, 499p., Ages 15 to adult.
Bridget Lederle rescues a strange man from the waters of Lake Superior and accompanies him to another world, a strange land of rival sorceries where a dowager empress strives to protect her world from the cunning grasp of the sorceress Ananda. The author of Playing God and Kingdom of Cages begins a fantasy series set in a world of politics, magic, and intrigue. Drawn from Russian, Chinese, and Indian mythologies, the land of Isavalta offers a unique and exotic atmosphere. Strong characters and superb storytelling make this a solid addition to most fantasy collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Densely plotted beginning of a trilogy blending romance and female empowerment in an unevenly realized world where magic is a tie that binds and reality is just about anything Zettel (Kingdom of Cages, 2001, etc.) wants it to be. It's 1899, and Bridget Lederle, the keeper of a lighthouse on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior, is used to rescuing boats and the men who happen to wash up on the rocks. This time, the boat is vaguely familiar, and the strangely costumed man she drags ashore summons odd visions in Bridget's mind of a place called Isavalta, a fairy-tale realm loosely based on pre-Peter the Great Russia. That Bridget is an ostracized mother of a child born out of wedlock makes it easier to accompany the man, a sorceror named Valin Kalami, to Isavalta, where Dowager Empress Medeoan hopes that Bridget will break the spell that makes the Empress's son, Mikkel, act like he's been fed too many tranquilizers. Among the excessive complications awaiting Bridget is Ananda, a princess from Hastinapura, a Mogul-period India. Ananda has been betrothed to Mikkel as part of a political arrangement that will unite the two nations against the Empire of Hung-Tse. Though Ananda loves Mikkel, she hasn't broken the spell-and maybe the Dowager doesn't want her to, having banished Ananda's wiley sorceror Sakra, who has entered into a peculiar alliance with crows that can turn into human form. For Zettel, magic is literally entanglement: sorcerors cast spell by weaving threads, wires, ropes, and hair and, as Bridget wondrously discovers, creating patterns in movement and sound. When Sakra exclaims in frustration, "How am I to hold all these threads?," the reader may wish to conjure a scissor.
"A Sorcerer's Treason is a gem of a book, artfully blending the windswept magic of late nineteenth century Lake Superior with that of the mystical realm of Isavalta."Elizabeth Haydon
"A sumptuous tale of subtle magic, malevolent sorcery and twisted loyalties where nothing is at it first."Sara Douglass