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Falcondance: The Kiesha'ra    by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes order for
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes transports readers twenty years forward in this continuation of The Kiesha'ra series of feuding shapeshifters. Nicias Silvermead, the narrator of Falcondance, is genetically a falcon. Once falcon warriors, his parents were exiled, their forms altered, magic powers bound, and their memories obliterated by Empress Czarja, and Empress-in-waiting Araceli (Nicias's paternal grandmother).

As signs of Nicias's falcon magic become apparent through powerful dreams and odd happenings, he resigns himself to traveling to the island of Ahnmik, home of the powerful, dark-magic falcons, to learn of his powers as a royal falcon. Painfully, his parents recognize that Nicias will face decisions that may permanently alter his life. Currently a royal court guard to Oliza Shardae Cobriana (heir to both avian and serpiente thrones) at Wyvern's Court, Nicias is determined to remain loyal. His father reassures, 'You've falcon blood, but your heart is avian, Nicias. You'll come back to us.' In Ahnmik, once Nicias learns the truth of his ancestry, and recognizes manipulation by Darien, Lillian, and Aracelli, he realizes that Oliza's future and that of Wyvern's Court are in peril.

The settings are exquisitely described in a complicated, yet darkly, suspenseful story. Though the progress is slow, with some repetition, Atwater-Rhodes' writing is both magical and intellectual. I recommend reading volumes one and two (Hawksong and Snakecharm) before this one, for a solid base and background to this complex fantasy world. Falcondance's abrupt ending suggests to me that a fourth book will be forthcoming.

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