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Touchstone: The Glass Thorns    by Melanie Rawn order for
by Melanie Rawn
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Melanie Rawn is well known in the fantasy world for her wonderful Dragon Prince, Dragon Star and Exiles series. Here's the start to a new Glass Thorns series, Touchstone, that blends magic and the stage.

A mix of Elven, Fae and Human, Cayden 'Cade' Silversun is a Wizard and tregetour (a playwright who employs magic to charge glass wands for use on stage). His home life is miserable. His father is First Gentleman of the Bedchamber ('the royal pimp') at Court and his aristocratic mother has always despised her ugly son. Cade lives for the theater, his small brother Derien, and his friend Blye, a talented glasscrafter, whose sex prevents her from full development of her craft. Her situation worsens after her father dies, but Cade does what he can to help build her business.

Though Cade has long worked with a skilled fettler (Rafcadion) and masquer (Jeschenar), his troupe has gone through many a glisker, looking for one with the talent to match them. Then they meet Mieka Windthistle, an insubordinate, capricious Elf, with an overabundance of talent. He joins the troupe and their reputation builds. They call themselves Touchstone. As their success grows, influential Lord Fairwalk offers to be their manager, and they begin to be embroiled in Court politics.

But Cade is increasingly plagued by visions of future disaster - he's been warned by the Sage that 'all too often you're skipping ahead in a book to the last few pages, and you find out how it ends - but you have no idea how you got there, how it happened the way it did.' And finally, as this episode concludes, something Cade had dreamed of, and feared, comes to pass. Though this first Glass Thorns episode moved slowly as the author laid out her world and characters, I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes this engaging series next.

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