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Season of Sacrifice    by Mindy L. Klasky order for
Season of Sacrifice
by Mindy L. Klasky
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2002 (2002)
*   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The People live on the Headland of Slaughter, garnering a precarious living from the sea, and guided by the Tree, keeper of the past. On the death of her father and of her predecessor, Alanna was called to become Woodsinger. In this role, she sings the daily events of the community to the Tree and obtains in return its wisdom, along with that of previous woodsingers.

As the tale opens, Alanna and her fellow villagers are flattered by the presence of Duke Coren and his soldiers, who have supposedly come to trade. Alanna even gives him a precious bavin or woodstar, which allows communication across distances through the Tree. Unfortunately the Duke quickly shows his true colors, setting dreaded dogs on the villagers and kidnapping a fatherless twin boy and girl (Reade and Maida) to play the roles of Sun-lord and Sun-lady in the capital of Smithcourt, in support of Coren's bid for the throne.

The villagers send three after them - a tracker, a fighter and a healer - with mixed success, which Alanna follows through the woodstar they carry. She also tracks the twins' progress and despairs as Reade, though abused by Coren, identifies with him as a father figure. Alanna Woodsinger must quickly learn the lore of her predecessors and use it to help her people fight a growing danger, and to rescue the children.

The concept is good, and the details imaginative, but the execution, especially the characterization, is weak. However, if you're looking for a fantasy escape with a strong thread of romance, you'll find Season of Sacrifice entertaining.

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