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Battle: The House War #5    by Michelle West order for
by Michelle West
Order:  USA  Can
Daw, 2014 (2012)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Battle is the fifth in Michelle West's outstanding House War series, following Skirmish. In this and the interconnected Sacred Hunt and Sun Sword series, god-born and demons walk alongside humans in various intricate societies. House War is set in Averalaan, capital of the Northern Empire and stars seer-born Jewel 'Jay' Markess, who must balance the demands of power with the shining compassion that is her nature.

Jay grew up in the slums of Averalaan, mentored by Ararath (estranged brother to Amarais, head of House Terafin). She gathered waifs into her den and explored the perilous Old Weston undercity. When Rath died, Jewel and her friends found refuge in House Terafin, winning key roles there. Jay's precognitive talent saved lives and her knowledge of the undercity was invaluable. The Terafin groomed Jay as her replacement. Then the Terafin was assassinated and machinations to win the House Seat began, with high collateral damage expected.

Jay won the Seat at the end of Skirmish, but remains in high jeopardy, under suspicion from the mages and the Kings for magic she unwittingly unleashed to save the Princes' lives. They wonder what she is and how she acquired such power. Now the 'mortal world seeps into the hidden and the wild; the hidden and the wild will seep, in return, into mortal lands.' Rude, winged magical felines (Snow, Shadow, Night) continue to inject comedy into the saga. And a sleeping sickness is spreading - and killing its victims. Haval's beloved wife has it and he will do anything to save her.

Time traveling Evayne shows up again, demanding a decision from Jewel, who must soon walk - and survive - the Oracle's path, before the Sleepers awake and destroy everything. And as always, though the fate of all humanity is at risk, Jewel cleaves to those close to her and in her care - the end will never justify the means to her, which is what I like most about the series and its lead. As this episode ends, Jay goes to war. Oracle is next; can't wait!

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