The Shining City
Rhiannon's Ride, No. 2
by Kate Forsyth
Fantasy novel, The Singing City, is clearly a middle book in a series. The ending
is obviously "to be continued," and the story here is equally obviously based on events
and relations from the prior book. But there's also a real story to be enjoyed for its own
sake, even if you've not read the first. The author does an unusually good job of bringing
you up to date without stopping this story dead to do so.
Half human Satyricorn Rhiannon has been brought to Lucescere, the Shining City of the
title, for trial on charges of murder and treason. Her victim was beloved by all, and a
city guard spitting on her upon arrival is only a minor sample of what she faces. Everyone
seems more than willing to believe her capable of any and all evil and treats her accordingly.
Her world falls completely apart when her lover, Lewen, who is also one of the key witnesses
for her defense, is ensorcelled into loving another and into believing that any evil bewitching
done to him was done by Rhiannon. Meanwhile, larger political and sorcerous currents swirl
all around, threatening to drown them both as they get caught in the undercurrents.
I really liked that the characters have a lot of grey and are not just black and white
cardboard saints and devils. Good people do bad things, not always with benevolent intent,
but for believable reasons. The setting is nicely populated with a real variety of creatures
of different powers and natures. I found the overly ubiquitous Scots dialect annoying, since
it didn't add to the story, such as emphasizing characterization by having different people
speak differently. While another annoyance was the way some of the characters tended to
ignore the obvious to the point of obtuseness. But on the whole, an enjoyable fantasy
adventure that works on its own or as part of a series. I'm certainly interested enough
in seeing what happens to look forward to the next book.