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Prisoner of Haven
Nancy Varian Berberick
Wizards of the Coast, 309 pages

Art: Matt Stawicki
Prisoner of Haven
Nancy Varian Berberick
Nancy Varian Berberick is the author of eight fantasy novels, four of them in the Dragonlance series -- Stormblade, Tears of the Night Sky (with Linda Baker), Dalamar the Dark, and The Inheritance. As well as novels, she has written a couple dozen short stories with a fair amount of those set in Krynn.

Nancy Varian Berberick Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Dezra Majere visits Haven every year in order to collect supplies needed for the family's tavern. This year she takes her sister-in-law Usha with her, knowing that the painter needs distraction from the troubles in her marriage. Usha is pretty preoccupied with the fact that her husband Palin has left her, perhaps for good, but she knows from Aline that times are getting harder in Haven. Dezra confirms it when she tells Usha that the supplies that they have come to gather -- hops, wine, spirits -- are no longer available. Then the dragons attack, trapping everyone in the city. Once, when the dragons attacked the now-silent elves, the people of Haven used secret paths to bring the elves out to safety. Can they use these same paths to get out? Or will they stay, trapped in the city that has fallen to a merciless dragon lord?

The problem with a series like this is that it never really ends. The story itself does, but there is a holding back, some things can never be resolved because they need to be used later in another book. So, not a whole ton of things happen, the whole point of the book is for the two to escape, and hopefully protect the Qui'thonas, or path that was built to help save the elves. There is still plenty of excitement as the Dragon Lord Sir Radulf attempts to forge an alliance with the city folk. Loren has promised his daughter in marriage in the hopes of peace, but it may soon become an arrangement he regrets. Sir Radulf and his ruthless second in command, Lady Mearah, will brook no defiance, and so search restlessly to discover why people are disappearing from under their watch. In an occupied city where the Lord Mayor and merchants all seem to be willing to comply with the dragon lords, no one can be trusted. It is an interesting angle, mostly in a story when you have an occupied city, there is a force, someone willing and wanting to overthrow the evil that's taken them over, but in this case fear -- everyone knows what happened to the elves, how they still fight for their freedom, though even that news is merely a whisper of rumor, and then, there's always the magical paralysis the dragons create in the hearts of men -- is making everyone extremely cooperative. This, more than anything else, is what our heroines have to fight. Usha especially, because despite the fact she still loves Plain, she has fallen for another, Loren, who is openly helping the dragon lords. How can she follow her heart, and still find the way out?

Another really interesting thing about Usha is that her paintings are often magical. She can see the future of those she paints in them. Her marvelous ability to draw and paint gives her a living despite the problems in the town, and gives her glances into the future that illuminate and sometimes cause sorrow. You can't help but wonder if one of the futures she sees will come to pass in a future book.

Altogether, Prisoner of Haven, a new volume in the age of mortals is really well done. Nancy Varian Berberick is a very good writer, skillfully combining the tensions between the two sisters, romance, espionage, and adventure.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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