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The Outstretched Shadow: The Obsidian Trilogy, Book 1    by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory order for
Outstretched Shadow
by Mercedes Lackey
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Outstretched Shadow is the first book in the authors' new Obsidian Trilogy. Kellen Tavadon is the rebellious son of Arch-Mage Lycaelon. His father is the effective ruler of the Golden City of the Bells, and the ossified product of a stagnating society. Every aspect of city life is controlled by the use of High Magick and the mages don't hesitate to influence both minds and memories of citizens - for their own good of course - to avoid any form of innovation or change.

Kellen, unhappy with his privileged lot and with what he sees around him, stumbles upon three books of the outlawed Wild Magic. They change his life, and he's soon in flight, exiled from his home, riding a vocal unicorn named Shalkan, with packs of stone Hounds on their heels. In the wilderness, Kellen meets Idalia, the sister whose existence he had forgotten. She's a skilled Wildmage, with much to teach him. Unfortunately his father's parting words have had an insidious effect, teaching Kellen to distrust his own use of Wild Magic.

Kellen meets, and helps, all kinds of magical creatures - tree dryads, centaurs, and eventually elves. He learns of the Endarkened, who feed off torture and whose Queen Savilla has been plotting for eons to keep the races of the Bright World apart, ever since their ancient Alliance defeated the Demons in the Great War. There's a quest of course, which involves Kellen, Shalkan, and an elf named Jermayan, who helps the young mage find his true calling. Along their embattled way, the trio meet Vistakia, a girl with a strange heritage. The quest brings Kellen to Savilla's notice, which sets the scene nicely for volume 2.

Though I found The Outstretched Shadow somewhat of a stodgy read (a bit dense in descriptive detail for my taste), it's still an exciting new fantasy adventure set in a well realized world. As such, The Obsidian Trilogy is sure to attract many followers.

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