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A Wizard Scorned
Patricia Lucas White
Hard Shell Word Factory, 223 pages

A Wizard Scorned
Patricia Lucas White
Patricia Lucas White is a bestselling author of mysteries, romances, westerns, and fantasies. A former English teacher, she now lives in the Cascade Mountains with her husband, daughter, and 4 cats.

Hard Shell Word Factory

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Thomas Myer


For most of the 70 pages leading to her enlightenment, Jane Murdock, power-player among New York's business elite, spends her time in the dark. In the midst of a wonderful and engaging fantasy, she steadfastly refuses to believe in magic, wizards, unicorns, or any of the bugbears that lurk in the corners of her vision -- namely, those old folktales to scare children by. Mostly because she cannot see what is going on around her.

It is not until she comes into the light -- literally -- and can see a herd of unicorns with her very eyes that she starts piecing it together: Will really is a wizard, she really has been whisked away to an alternate Earth, there are such things as unicorn ranchers and wyverns, and strangely enough, a prince turned into a big black cat, a prince she is long-destined to love -- or maybe kill. And that's what Patricia Lucas White loves to remind us about -- all those myths and legends, they're so delightfully ambiguous, aren't they? Eternal love, or eventual death. You choose.

A Wizard Scorned is a vigorous tale. The story's humans are poignant in their need for a quest, a structure for their lives, a meaningfulness in the midst of a harsh frontier where magic and nature collide, and mere men can be crushed without effort. The wizards are full of frailties and pettiness. They, like the quarrelling gods of Homer's Iliad, set into motion great big wheels of causation, wheels that crush and maim.

The wizard scorned is one Cordelia, rejected by the handsome and rich unicorn rancher Max Farrell. Her response to spurned loved: she magically transports all the women in the Great Northwest away to her castle, away from the men.

Enter Will, a young wizard straight out of wizard college, who is hired by the men of the frontier to travel to a mythical place -- Earth -- and return with brides. And Will's companion, Sojourner, the black cat that was once a prince, agrees to the dangerous trip only because he knows that the young wizard will return with his long-fated love, Jane Murdock -- a woman who might be able to restore him to manhood, and bind the curse that sets him forever wandering.

Of course, Cordelia spoils everyone's plans and takes the new brides from Earth captive, too.

And it's not anyone's fault that Jane Murdock is such a hard-nosed bitch -- skinny, driven, a corporate climber. Hardly the ideal destined love. But even she -- when she sees the truth, feels it, knows it -- has to comply, has to believe. But then, she must make a choice: love the man inside the cat, and maybe kill him, or escape back to Earth, and never ever know love.

Will, with the aid of some hardy and desperate unicorn ranchers, must storm Cordelia's castle to free all the women, and free the land from a spiteful, adolescent-minded wizard.

Hard Shell Word Factory, with its electronic books in RTF and PDF formats, has done it again. A Wizard Scorned is a supremely enjoyable read, and very hard to put down (I know, I tried). I mean, hard to shut down. (If electronic books become more prevalent, we're going to need a whole new set of metaphors to describe reading.)

Copyright © 1998 Thomas Myer

Thomas Myer is a technical writer at Cisco Systems, Inc. In his little spare time, he tinkers around with his website, hacks around in perl, and sends long emails to annoying journalists who say or write stupid things about the Web.

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