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The Wild Hunt: Vengeance Moon
Jocelin Foxe
Avon EOS Books, 320 pages

The Wild Hunt: Vengeance Moon
Jocelin Foxe
Jocelin Foxe is also know as Joyce Cottrell and Linda Reames Fox. This is their first novel. Jocelin Foxe is working on the sequel to The Wild Hunt Vengeance Moon, tentatively scheduled for Fall 1999 from Avon/Eos.

Linda Reames Fox is a long-time member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and an arts peer in that organization. She has a Bachelor's degree in General Studies and Anthropology from Indiana University. She has one husband and seven cats.

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A review by Regina Lynn Preciado

If you like a blend of complex schemes, large casts of characters, and political intrigue, with romance sprinkled on top for flavour, you're gonna like this first novel from debut author Jocelin Foxe. And if you buy it, I recommend leaving it on the shelf until the sequel comes out. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Because The Wild Hunt: Vengeance Moon doesn't end, it merely stops. At the most frustrating point imaginable.

But let's start at the beginning. In a long-ago time, the Three Goddesses -- Elun, Enath, and Anchytel -- created the Wild Hunt as a punishment.

"The Three Goddesses chose not to destroy the five men who had desecrated their sanctuary; instead the Goddesses decided to use the men to restore their worship and the Empire the defilers had destroyed. The Goddesses called these men the Wild Hunt and bound them to perform any task set them by one who summoned them in the Goddesses' names at the full moon. If they failed before the next full moon... all the Huntsmen except the three last cursed... would face that postponed destruction."
As with all good curses, this one has a loophole. If someone cares enough about a Huntsman to fight against the Goddesses' call at the end of the month, and if that someone is strong enough to hold the Huntsman back throughout the night, that man is freed. It has happened once in all the centuries since the Hunt's inception.

The novel opens with a dry and complex Prologue that outlines the history of Foxe's world over the past millennium. Get through it as best you can, because you'll need this information later in the story. Once you're past the prologue, the writing smooths out and you plunge into a vivid world occupied by fully realized characters.

Vengeance Moon really begins with a Summoning. Walter, the Hunt leader, and his men cannot refuse this call -- the Goddesses deem it a worthy cause. Lady Richenza's Summons is the first in more than 300 years, in a time when the Hunt is all but forgotten, a tale told around the fireside to shorten the long winter nights.

Foxe handles her players well, developing each member of the Hunt as he becomes pivotal to the story. However, with such a densely populated book, sometimes it's hard to remember who is who. In Richenza's world, your social status depends almost entirely upon who your relatives are; this leads to long, complicated genealogies and people with similar names. And because I hate referring to character lists in the front of books (talk about lexus interruptus), I just muddled through and eventually got everybody straight.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Vengeance Moon is how unpredictable it is. It's not about Good and Evil, or about Issues. It's about people. Characters reveal themselves to be different from what you thought at first. The plot twists like Chubby Checker on a double espresso. And like all good fiction, this novel is a mystery as much as it is a fantasy.

Foxe also has a penchant for conveying crucial information through dialogue. I have long suspected that philosophical conversations among characters often interest authors more than readers, but in this case the exchanges rarely feel contrived. She also avoids the mystery-novel trap of people over-explaining where they've been and what they've found. Her characters usually speak in realistic sentences, rather than long-winded expository essays:

"'As Reynard reported yesterday, the queen arranged for me to meet with her tonight. I just came from the palace.'

'You didn't let yourself be followed?'

'I know my business better than that.'

'You've had enough practice.'

Hamon's eyes flashed at that, challenged by the thought that Walter might be picking a quarrel, but Hamon rejected the bait and said lightly, 'Indeed I have. Walls are no obstacle nor jealous husbands. Love is a fine locksmith...'  'Did you get the ring?' Walter cut him off."

And this passage brings me to my final point. Each member of the Hunt has his own agenda, his own perspective on the events around him and the task before him, and the tensions that result are at least as absorbing as the main plot.

Vengeance Moon is original and compelling. Despite the cruel non-ending, I recommend this book to anyone searching for a different twist on the fantasy genre. And who knows, maybe the sequel will make my suffering worthwhile.

Copyright © 1998 by Regina Lynn Preciado

Regina Lynn Preciado writes and edits for a living. Her short-lived film career began with a role as an extra in The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition and ended with another in The Return of the Jedi: Special Edition. She wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. Or maybe a train engineer. Want to know more?

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