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Changer of Days, Volume 1
Alma A. Hromic
HarperCollins Voyager, 429 pages

Changer of Days, Volume 1
Alma A. Hromic
Alma A. Hromic was born in Yugoslavia, grew up in Africa, has lived, worked and published in New Zealand, and now lives in Florida, USA. Her published works include her autobiography, Houses in Africa; a collection of fairy tales, The Dolphin's Daughter; and a contemporary novel, Letters from the Fire.

Butterknife Books -- Alma A. Hromic Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Interview with Alma Hromic
"On Fantasy": an essay by Alma A. Hromic

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Victoria Strauss

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When Dynan Kir Hama, King of Roisinan, falls on the field of battle, his illegitimate son Sif is drafted by the army's desperate generals into leadership. Winning victory against impossible odds, Sif becomes a hero. There would seem to be no barrier to his burning ambition to become King in his father's place -- none, that is, but Dynan's rightful daughter, nine-year-old Anghara.

Anghara's mother possesses the gift of Sight (part prescience, part magic); she knows Anghara is doomed if Sif ever finds her. Determined to save both her daughter's life and Queenship, she hastily arranges a coronation ceremony, and then sends Anghara in disguise to relatives far away. Forced into exile, her true identity known only to a handful of people, Anghara (already wise beyond her years) must grow up very fast -- too fast, perhaps, for her own gift of Sight manifests precociously, and she hasn't the ability to fully control its strength. The tragedy that results forces Anghara to flee once more, this time to the Tower of Bresse, whose Sisterhood, experienced in the ways of Sight, can offer the training and the refuge Anghara needs.

But Sif is on her trail, and no one who shelters her is safe. On the run yet again, Anghara is offered sanctuary by ai'Jihaar, a powerfully Sighted woman from the mysterious desert land of Kheldrin, little known by the people of Roisinan. In Kheldrin, Anghara begins to discover at last the true potential of her prodigious gift of Sight, and to guess that her destiny may be much greater, and much stranger, than the Queenship of Roisinan.

Changer of Days is an involving, intelligent novel. Avoiding the flashy high-concept premises and gimmicky special effects with which many fantasy authors attempt to distinguish their works, Alma A. Hromic allows graceful storytelling, solid world building, and fine characterizations to carry her tale. Many of the plot elements -- the rightful ruler separated from the land, the great power rising to potential, the youthful bearer of a fabulous destiny -- are familiar, but Hromic's thoughtful and sensitive treatment lends freshness to these popular themes. Similarly, the settings -- the quasi-medieval kingdom of Roisinan, the desert land of Kheldrin -- are places readers may think they've seen before, but the care and detail with which they are realized provides them with a deeper originality.

Characterization is a particular strength of this novel. Anghara is utterly sympathetic and believable, first as a child struggling to understand the loss of all she knows and loves, then as a young woman fighting to come to terms with the tragedy she has brought on others and with the terrifying strength of her inborn gift. The painful process by which she learns to understand not just power but its potentially devastating consequences is one of the book's best-realized themes. Other characters are equally vivid, especially the villains -- Sif, who in the end accomplishes great evil but whose journey to that point is convincingly drawn in shades of gray; and Ansen, Anghara's jealous cousin, whose betrayal is despicable but also tragic.

This is the first volume of a duology; it doesn't end, so much as pause at a natural intermission point in the tale. Fortunately, readers won't have to long to wait for resolution: Changer of Days, Volume 2 is out in May.

Copyright © 2002 Victoria Strauss

Victoria Strauss is a novelist, and a lifelong reader of fantasy and science fiction. Her most recent fantasy novel The Garden of the Stone is currently available from HarperCollins EOS. For details, visit her website.


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