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Stealing Magic
Tanya Huff
Edge, 256 pages

Stealing Magic
Tanya Huff
Tanya Huff worked at Bakka, Canada's oldest SF and fantasy book store, for many years. Leaving there, she moved further east up the St. Lawrence and found the perfect place. Elsewhere Tanya has said there will be no more Blood Series books but she is planning volume 4 of the Quarters Series to be called The Quartered Sea.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review:Smoke and Shadows
SF Site Review: The Second Summoning
SF Site Reading List: Tanya Huff
SF Site Review: Wizard of the Grove
SF Site Review: Summon the Keeper
SF Site Review: Blood Debt
Tanya Huff Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

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Tanya Huff fans will want this book, plain and simple. Not only are the stories good, the packaging is brilliant. Stealing Magic is bound like an old Ace double -- one side for the Terazin stories, and one for the Magdalene stories -- making for a great bi-directional read, with double cover art by David Willicome that's both handsome and suitable to the stories.

For those who don't already know Huff's work, she's a talented Fantasy writer whose books are a great way to kick back on a rainy day. Novels like The Fire's Stone (1990) set a delightful new gender-bending standard for living happily ever after, and her Toronto vampire books (Blood Price, Blood Trail, Blood Lines, and Blood Pact) were a kick.

The stories in Stealing Magic are republished from various magazines and anthologies. Some have been reprinted before, but they've never been gathered together in one volume, which is clearly where they belong.

The larger side of this book consists of seven exploits of Magdalene, the most powerful wizard in the world. In "The Last Lesson," a fourteen year old Magdalene is apprenticed to Adar, the king's wizard. She hasn't realized that she is already more powerful than Adar, and that he is planning to steal her powers and kill her.

Of course she triumphs -- she always does -- but the fun is in the details and the characterization of this self-indulgent, lustful, yet very practical woman. For instance, when she finds a village where she wants to build her home ("Mirror, Mirror, On the Lam") she has to convince the villagers to accept her.

"I can be your defenses," Magdalene insisted.

Yolanda's teeth ground against her pipe stem. "You could use your power to enslave us."

"I could... but why would I bother?"

She sounded so sincerely puzzled that Carlos began to laugh. "She's right," he cackled. "The only thing she'd rather do than lie in the sun is..." Just what exactly Magdalene would rather do than lie in the sun got lost in a violent coughing fit, but more than one stupid grin was hastily hidden.

The flip side of Stealing Magic has four stories featuring Terazin, possibly the world's best thief. She is introduced in "Swan's Braid" trying to gain admission to the Thieves Guild -- literally, since the first test is breaking into their building without getting caught. When she succeeds brilliantly, they set her a second test -- bringing them the braid of Swan, local hero and leader of a band of mercenaries that has just saved the town from a gang of marauding bandits.

Trouble is, Swan is also a beautiful woman, and Terazin has an intense crush on her. Getting close enough to steal her braid may involve perils far beyond the usual risks of the business...

It's all good fun -- well written, clever, vastly entertaining, and leaving the reader wanting lots more.

Copyright © 2005 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at http://www.donna-mcmahon.com/.


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