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The Glasswright's Test
Mindy L. Klasky
Roc, 343 pages

The Glasswright's Test
Mindy L. Klasky
Mindy L. Klasky was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Dallas, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. After beginning college as a computer science major, she graduated with a degree in English. She attended law school and practiced trademark and copyright law with a major Washington firm for 6 years. Then, she returned to school and earned a degree in library science. She now manages the library reference department in a large Washington law firm. She is an active member of the SFWA (currently serving as co-chair of the Contracts Committee), as well as many legal bar organizations and library societies.
Mindy L. Klasky Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Glasswrights' Progress
SF Site Review: The Glasswrights' Apprentice
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Rani Trader is trying to enjoy the life she's found. At the first auction of the spider silk, she and her friends sacrificed so much to bring it to the kingdom of Morenia. We see the elements of her life: her relationship with her lover, the handsome Tovin, her place as the sponsor of a troop of Players that he happens to head, her acceptance that her love for the King Halaravilli will never happen, that he belongs to someone else, that she will never truly be a glasswright. She wonders why the king has been trying to contact her, and after the auction begins she finds out why. Berylina Thunderspear, the princess Hal was supposed to wed, wants to go on a pilgrimage to the holy land where the prophet of their religion was born. She is a very fervent young woman, able to commune with the thousand gods, recognizing their presence by taste and scent. Rani is reluctant to go, haunted by guilt (for her brother wanted to go, but was killed before he could) and wanting to go about her own business, but the King convinces her. Then a letter arrives from the head of the exiled Glasswright's Guild, inviting her to come and take the test for the rank of master. This is a surprise because the Glasswrights all despise her, blaming her for her part, however innocently played, in their downfall. Rani knows this, but cannot help but be tempted. She wants acceptance from the people she once called her own more than about anything. The price for this acceptance, which she may never receive, will be dear indeed.

The Glasswright's Test was my first journey into Mindy L. Klasky's lands, but I was quite captivated. I thought so many of the aspects of the story were well written. For example, Berylina's ability to see her gods, to experience them through certain assigned scents and sounds and tastes was really fabulous, as was the symbolism behind Klasky's pairings. Of course, death would look like an iridescent green and black flutter of insect wings, and I liked the idea of the god of wind being signaled by the taste of peaches. The idea of the deity being an all-sense experience is really attractive, and it adds so much to the theme of the book. There's not just the heavily religious setting (for the country to where they travel is very much centered around the thousand gods, not just as a way of life, but a way of making a living) but adding an immediacy to how important these forces are to the characters. It also underscores another pilgrimage. That is the wistful journey Rani makes in the hopes that she will not just gain the level of Master Glasswright, but she will regain the love of the people she feels so guilty towards, who she once respected and loved. It's made even more poignant by the fact that we know, right away, that the Guildmaster Parion hates her. From his perspective we can sort of see why. Even though we know she's innocent, he only knows that the woman he loved is dead, that the hands of his guild members have been mutilated, and they require special devices to give them the strength and pliability to work their craft. Devices that mysterious people will grant if he sends for her. His hate for her, and the decisions he forces on her are very painful to read.

There is a kind of interesting romance dynamic. Not having the background, I wasn't sure who she really wanted to be with. She isn't, either, I think. She apparently really loved King Hal, but is trying to settle with Tovin. Tovin, on the other hand, is too nifty -- a little prideful perhaps, but perceptive -- he knows her confusion, and it irks him. This part definitely feels unfinished, and I wonder what will happen in the next book.

There is a very important underpinning to the story, one that really drives the plot, and gives me another idea that this series is not yet finished. A secret group of people are gathering power, slowly manipulating their way around the underground of all the kingdoms. Their designs force Rani to make yet another horrible choice.

I didn't feel lost, even though The Glasswright's Test is the fourth book of this series, but I could see how all the actions of the past affect the book, both in where the people are and why they will act the way they do, to Rani's own confused, guilty feelings. It's a well done, fascinating quest.

Copyright © 2003 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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