Maskelle, the Voice of the Adversary, speaks for the power the Ancestors created to destroy evil. Since a false vision years ago, she has wandered in exile, but now the Celestial One, head of the Koshan Order of priests, has called her back to the capital city of Duvalpore. The yearly Rite of the Wheel of the Infinite, upon which the survival of the world depends, has been interrupted. An inexplicable black storm has appeared on the face of the Wheel, and if it is not removed before the Rite is completed the world could be utterly changed. With the help of an attractive foreign swordsman named Rian and a troupe of actors, Maskelle must lead the battle against the storm and the strange insurgents from another world who sent it. Maskelle and her allies face murderous water spirits, possessed corpses and cursed puppetsAand then the evil forces get to Duvalpore, and the real trouble begins. Murdered priests, magical assassins and the court favorite Lady Marada all add to the growing mystery; meanwhile, the Adversary, the source of Maskelle's power, seems strangely unreliable. Fast-paced, witty and inventive, Well's latest fantasy (after The Death of the Necromancer) is not only about saving the world; it is also about saving Maskelle from self-doubt and isolation. The vividly imagined Celestial Empire's peril is made all the more dramatic by the characters' sarcastic, reasonable conversations, and by their very human responses to inhuman dangers; there is real reading pleasure here. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Another mind-stretching fantasy from Wells (The Death of the Necromancer, 1998, etc.). Every year in Duvalpore, the Celestial Empire's city of temples, the wizardly Voices of the Ancestors must gather to renew the Wheel of the Infinite, an image built of sand that represents the key to the shape of reality. The upcoming observance is an especially important hundred-year rite, and Maskelle--exiled for murderer and treachery--has been summoned to participate. She is the Voice of the Adversary: reviled as a demon in many lands, the Adversary is, ironically, the champion of justice. Alone of all the Ancestors, it was never once human. Maskelle travels to Duvalpore in the company of Rastim's troupe of actors, the cursed puppet, Gisar, and bodyguard Rian. The malevolent Gisar demands to be released from the box where Maskelle has confined him, terrifying Rastim. Ominously, the Wheel's representation is marred by a region of swirling black, and not all the magical efforts of the Voices can restore it to purity. Maskelle dreams of an eerie, inhuman city abandoned in the midst of devastation. From this and other clues, she learns that the Voices have mysterious, magical opponents who have created their own Wheel, and whose concern is to alter reality to benefit themselves. Has the Celestial Emperor himself been duped by confederates of the invaders? Worst of all, Maskelle wonders whether the Adversary itself is entirely sane.In a field teeming with clones, retreads, and solipsistic doorstoppers, Wells dares--and, gloriously, succeeds--to be different. What more do you need? -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.