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Mystic Warrior: Book One of The Bronze Canticles    by Tracy Hickman & Laura Hickman Amazon.com order for
Mystic Warrior
by Tracy Hickman
Order:  USA  Can
Aspect, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Comparing its cover with other current fantasy novels, nothing stands out about Tracy and Laura Hickman's Mystic Warrior. It looks just like all the rest - a heroic warrior in medieval garb prominently displaying his sword, with dragons in the background. But while the cover may be the usual, the story is quite different.

This first installment of The Bronze Canticles introduces readers to three unique worlds interconnected through dreams, metaphors, and deep magic (and yes, the magic bears a resemblance to that in C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia). There is a world of faeries, a world of goblins, and the human world. Each suffers internal strife: the seven kingdoms of the faeries are at war; the goblins have suffered a rapid succession of emperors since the fall of the mysterious titans; and humans live under the tyrannical theocracy of the five Dragonkings. Events in the human world make up most of Mystic Warrior (and all other tales from The Bronze Canticles, according to the Appendix).

Four centuries before, the great Dragonkings defeated the Mad Emperors of Rhamas. Since then, at the annual Festival of the Harvest, Dragonking Vasska's priests have pulled those suffering the madness of the emperors from their homes and taken them to the central city of Vasskhold. What happens to them there? No one knows, since none have returned. But a young smith named Galen is about to find out. Galen possesses two extraordinary powers he can talk to crafted objects, and his dreams link him to the other worlds. Through these dreams, Galen learns deep magic. While asleep he meets two men from his own world, his comrade Maddoc and Inquisitor Tragget, and creatures from the other two worlds, faery Dwynwyn and goblin Mimic. Through elaborate dream metaphors, he learns to use magic in his own world, and to teach it in the other worlds.

The Hickmans have created impressive worlds in their Bronze Canticles, but some aspects are confusing. Though much is resolved as the story progresses, the basic tenet of the faery belief system that of truths and new truths - is difficult to grasp, even with explanations in footnotes and appendices. Perhaps it will become clearer as the series progresses. Overall Mystic Warrior is a great start to a promising new epic fantasy, and remember, when you see it on store shelves, think of the old adage - you really can't judge a book by its cover.

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