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Song Quest: The Echorium Sequence    by Katherine Roberts order for
Song Quest
by Katherine Roberts
Order:  USA  Can
Scholastic, 2002 (1999)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Song Quest is the first volume of The Echorium Sequence, about a world in which humans and Half Creatures co-exist, and where peace is maintained by Singers. These train on the Isle of Echoes in the use of songs of power - Challa, Kashe, Shi, Aushan and Yehn - whose effects range from healing and laughter to pain and death. Rialle, Kherron and Frenn are all Final Years, in the process of completing their training. On the day that they descend the five thousand steps to the west beach, forces are in place that change all three lives.

Rialle discovers in herself the ability to communicate with merlee (half human, half fish) and they tell her of those who hunt them and eat their young. Frenn is to be trained to be an orderly. Soon both end up as part of a mission to the Mainland to find out who is hunting the merlee, who in turn raise continual storms that disrupt trade to the island. The rebellious Kherron has sailed off on his own illicit adventure, and this eventually intersects with the Singer delegation in extreme peril. Kherron learns to value what he previously despised, and in turn Rialle and Frenn find out that he is worth their trust.

The world and the adventure in Song Quest are both interesting, though a little rough around the edges. The concept of Half Creatures is engaging, and it looks like the sequel Nightmare will add a centaur-like people to the merlee and quetzal (half-bird) creatures introduced in the first episode. It will be fun to see how this world develops.

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