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Don Callander
Ace Fantasy, 289 pages

Don Callander
Don Callander's previous work features the character Tom Whitehead in Dragon Companion (1994) and Dragon Rescue (1995). As well, his Mancer series featuring Douglas Brightglade includes Pyromancer (1992), Aquamancer (1992) and Geomancer (1994).

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond


A cozy kitchen, a roomful of magicians and their familiars, walking and talking kitchen accessories... Welcome to the fourth book in Don Callander's Mancer series, Aeromancer. The series began with Pyromancer, the tale of Douglas Brightglade's introduction to the mysteries and secrets of wizardry in the discipline of fire, and to his beautiful wife-to-be Myrn Manstar. In Aquamancer, Douglas sets off alone on a Journey to investigate a Coven of Black Witches, which is necessary for his promotion to Mastery. He finds his Familiar, Marbleheart Sea Otter, on his journey and in the end is rescued by his beloved, Myrn. Geomancer, tells the tale of the Stone Warrior Tribe's curse, and the search for a Geomancer by Douglas and his companions to break the curse. Three years pass -- Douglas and Myrn are wed, have twins (one boy and one girl), and everything is at peace. But now it is time for Myrn's Journey. Aeromancer tells the tale of her Journey, the next step in her progression to the Mastery of Aquamancy.

Myrn's task is find the Aeromancer Serenit, formerly the evil Ice King Frigeon, now reformed and missing. Kidnapped and being held against his will somewhere in the Nearer East, Myrn's must Journey to find him. Accompanying her is a small gray flying horse, who came to Wizards' High seeking aid. On her Journey, Myrn is kidnapped herself and sold to a Sheik to serve as a wife for his son. But never fear, it is all part of her plan. It doesn't prevent Douglas from worrying however, as he follows his wife at a distance, fearing for her safety. It turns out to be a good thing, because after Myrn rescues Serenit, Douglas, Myrn and the rest of their wizardly companions must deal with a Servant of Darkness. But, never fear, their skills are sufficient for the task and they all return home to celebrate the completion of Myrn's Journey.

Callander's Mancer series, and in fact, all of his books, have a warm, cheerful feel to them. Though they follow the eternal struggle of Light vs. Dark, Good vs. Evil, they are still light, pleasant reading. Though they are not children's books, they are ideal books to read to children, with talking animals, animated kitchens and incredibly polite people, even the villains. The villains are never very evil and the heroes would always rather reform them rather than slay them. They are the kind of books where, if a hero and a villain are fighting and the villain drops his sword, the hero will bend down, pick up the sword and return it to his opponent, so that they may continue. There is still plenty here for adults, though.

Callander's vision of magic is not unique but it is well-done. Wizards are rare, and specialize in one of the four elements: earth, air, fire or water. They train new wizards via an apprenticeship program, ensuring that only suitable people are given the powers and responsibilities of being a wizard. The magic has a practical nature as well, as is seen throughout his books. Too often in other books, magic is treated as precious, used only for important tasks. In the Mancer books, the wizards use magic to cook their food, cloth themselves, and communicate with their loved ones. That itself is different from many other fantasy novels - wizards with families and friends. Too often wizards are treated as solitary individuals, sacrificing their personal lives for magical power. In Callander's books, it is possible to be a wizard and a parent.

Callander's books are not for everyone. If you are looking for high action, darkness and intrigue, you should look elsewhere. But if enjoy light and cheerful fantasy, that leaves you with a pleasant, warm feeling when you put down the book, pick up Pyromancer and don't stop until you finish Aeromancer.

Copyright © 1997 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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