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Betrayals: Book Four of The Blending
Sharon Green
Avon EOS Books, 388 pages

Art: Tom Canty
Betrayals: Book Four of The Blending
Sharon Green
Sharon Green was born and raised in Brooklyn, graduating from New York University in 1963. She married in 1963, bore three sons and was divorced in 1976. She raised them on her own in New Jersey while working as a correspondent for AT&T, a general assistant in a construction company and an assistant sales manager for an import firm until 1984 when she began to write full-time.

Sharon Green Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Blending: Convergence, Competitions, Challenges

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Robert Francis

Betrayals is the fourth book in The Blending, and solidly builds upon the groundwork laid in the first three books. The story revolves around five people, each gifted with the power to control one of the five elements -- Air, Water, Fire, Earth, or Spirit. As the plot unfolds in the earlier books, these five have the strongest elemental powers of their generation, and in a perfect world would have assumed their rightful places atop the Empire after having won the competitions held every 25 years to select the new rulers. Unfortunately, the Empire is far from a perfect world. Betrayals begins with our heroes drugged, and headed for uncertain futures, after having fallen victim to the plots of the entrenched aristocracy who would have lost some of their power and control had these upstarts claimed their rightful thrones. But even with their treacherous victory, all is not well in the halls of power. The aristocrats' original choices for the new rulers of the Empire are dead -- killed unexpectedly in the competitions which had supposedly been rigged in their favor. Their replacements, although also aristocrats, are tied to neither the status-quo nor their erstwhile aristocratic "superiors", and threaten to take the excesses and abuses of their privileged class to staggering, and potentially disastrous, new heights.

As the name of the book implies, the plot abounds with betrayals. The most obvious one affecting the plot actually occurred in the previous book in the series, where the scheming nobles betrayed tradition, the public trust, and ultimately the best interests of the Empire by rigging the competitions so that our heroes would fail. However, it is the smaller, more subtle betrayals that give the plot its spice. The five new rulers betray one of their own, literally making him a puppet, so that their rule could go unchallenged. Some of the nobles seek to betray the new rulers, fearing that the rulers are too uncontrolled. The peasants movement, seeking to overthrow the aristocracy by non-violent means, is betrayed by infiltrators working for the nobles. And two of our heroes, Tamrissa and Vallant, continue to be betrayed by their own natures, and continue to botch what could be a romance made in heaven. Not surprising, as their elemental powers, Fire and Water, are not the most compatible either.

Actually, for those who read my series review of The Blending, you'll remember that my only complaint about the earlier books was that the heroes of her story were such decent people. Ms. Green had to rely on honest misunderstandings or conflicting sets of noble ideals to provide any sort of tension between the group. Well, there has been progress on this front, as the romantic impasse between Tamrissa and Vallant, though still in place, has shifted focus considerably, and everyone else seems to be communicating clearly with each other. This has also allowed the focus of the book to shift outward a bit. In the earlier books, much of the story line was focused on how our heroes could overcome their personal differences (honest differences in attitudes and upbringing) to work effectively together. Could they? And if so, could they do it soon enough to be ready for the forces gathering against them? In Betrayals, the focus of the story line has shifted outward (with the exception of Tamrissa and Vallant's stalled romance) and towards the question of "how can our heroes overcome the treachery of the nobles, and save the Empire while they're at it"?

As I stated in my earlier review, I have enjoyed these books, and think that they would be especially well received by those who enjoy Mercedes Lackey's ever-expanding Heralds of Valdemar (and related) series. Although I have not seen any indication of how many books will ultimately be in this series, given that the story isn't over yet I suspect that there will be a minimum of five books. At least one more to go, and I'm looking forward to it!

Copyright © 1999 by Robert Francis

Robert Francis is by profession a geologist, and, perhaps due to some hidden need for symmetry, spends his spare time looking at the stars. He is married, has a son, and is proud that the entire family would rather read anything remotely resembling literature than watch Jerry Springer.

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