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Path of Fate
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Roc, 384 pages

Path of Fate
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Diana Pharaoh Francis grew up on a cattle ranch in northern California. She has a Ph.D. in Victorian literature and currently teaches literature and writing at the University of Montana-Western. She lives in Montana with her husband, son and an oversized lapdog. Path of Fate is her first novel.

Diana Pharaoh Francis Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Path of Fate

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Reisil spent her life being passed from one family to another, an orphan and burden being shared by all the village. Now a grown woman, she is a skilled Tark, or healer, living in a tiny house in the very town she grew up in. As part of the agreement, she's working for them for six months, a sort of trial period, after which if they decide they want her, she can stay. And it looks like she's staying. In short, she finally has everything she has ever wanted, something many of us have and take for granted -- a home and a dependable career. So it is no wonder that, when an ahalad-kaaslane goshawk flies towards her, happily crying out that she's found her at long last, Reisil vehemently denies the creature. You see, the ahalad-kaaslane is a select group of people chosen by their Lady to be the guardians, law keepers, spies and explorers of the land. They kneel only to The Lady, who blesses them by sending them a special animal, one of super intellect who bonds with them. They have no friends, no homes, no possessions.

But when a party of delegates come from a neighboring country to speak of peace and the daughter of one of their nobility is kidnapped, Reisil will have no choice but to accept Saljane and her destiny.

While reading Path of Fate, I found myself looking forward to a lot of things besides the resolution of the main story line. I couldn't wait for Saljane and Reisil to make peace, and for Juhrnus to get his comeuppance. Juhrnus has bullied her all her life. And, oddly enough, he's one of the ones picked to be an ahalad-kaaslane, being appropriately bonded with a lizard. Despite his exalted status, he still is merciless in his teasing, and I really, really looked forward to his expression when he discovered that she, too had been picked. I also liked how the consequences of her rejection of Saljane played out. It made things much harder for her in many ways, and added a lot to the story. These examples just go to show that Diana Pharaoh Francis is good at creating people you care about and real-life situations that carry you through the points of the story. I truly felt happy at the various small triumphs along the way, even when I empathized with her constant regret of her rejection of Saljane. Also, it is interesting to watch these characters grow. Kebnostat, Ceriba's brother, begins the story as a spoiled seeming brat, and grows to be a really interesting, strong person.

The interaction between Saljane and Reisil is fabulous. I felt horrible for Saljane, who's practically chirping with joy over finally having found her ahalad-kaaslane, only to be very forcibly rejected. Saljane doesn't give up though, and the scenes, such as when she perches on the back of Reisil's chair and just glares at her, are priceless. Reisil will have to -- pardon the pun -- eat a bit of crow before things are smoothed over perfectly.

I truly enjoyed Path of Fate. It is filled with adventure and joy. I do feel that things might be left open, so perhaps there will be a sequel, event though the main story stands alone enough to satisfy. There are details, I confess, that I'd like to see finished. Also, the concepts and characters of this story are strong enough, the world fertile enough, that she could definitely continue.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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