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The Foretelling    by Alice Hoffman order for
by Alice Hoffman
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Rain grows up as daughter and heir to Alina, Queen of the Amazonia, nomadic warrior women who live without men and fight off invaders. Their lives are intertwined with those of their horses, who 'were everything to us.'

Rain is taught wisdom by high priestess Deborah and warcraft by Asteria and Astella, but receives nothing from the mother. 'Alina was like a piece of ice in the sunlight, blinding and bright and unforgiving.' Rain longs for some sign of recognition or approval from her mother, who named her daughter for sorrow and tears after her rape as a thirteen-year-old. Alina rescues a slave woman, Penthe, who becomes very close to her. Penthe's daughter Io eventually wins Rain over as a sister, despite initial resentment. Though Io has none of the qualities admired by the Amazonia, Rain sees strength in her. Rain raises and rides a bear cub. When it's killed by raiders, she destroys them, helped by a boy named Melek.

We see Rain grow up to think and act for herself, rejecting many of her people's habitual patterns, and eventually leading them to a new way of life. Deborah says of Alina, 'She sees only rain when she looks at you, but even a Queen can be wrong. You are the prophecy. You're what's to come.' Despite betrayal and heartbreak, Rain makes her own choices and finds her own strength.

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