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Medalon: Book One of the Hythrun Chronicles    by Jennifer Fallon order for
by Jennifer Fallon
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2004 (2000)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is another welcome fantasy import from Australia, the first episode in a series of Hythrun Chronicles. Medalon is ruled by the 'Sisters of the Blade', through the power of their warrior 'Defenders'. The Sisters long since overthrew the previous rule of the Harshini and their pagan gods, by alliance with the northern Kariens. Though the Sisters agreed to stamp out all pagan worship in Medalon, cults are growing, along with rumors of the coming of a 'demon child'. The Defenders have other problems to the south, where they clash with the hostile Hythria and Fardohnya, who still revere the Harshini.

R'shiel, though raised as the daughter of high ranking sister Joyhinia, rebels against everything her mother stands for. Her half-brother Tarja is a Captain of the Defenders, sent to the border in disgrace after expressing too frank an opinion of the First Sister. Joyhinia manipulates events to become First Sister herself, and plots treachery with the Karien priesthood, involving her daughter. Ultimately, both the impulsive R'shiel and loyal Tarja flee, are caught up in a growing rebellion against the Sisters and Defenders, and end up taking a leadership role in it. We meet another major player, demi-god Brak, in Hythria. Long-lived and delightfully cynical about his revered relatives, Brak has exiled himself from the Harshini after an accident that violated his principles. Tasked through the 'Seeing Stone' with finding the demon child, Brak sets out for Medalon.

R'shiel, Tarja and Brak eventually come together in a series of adventures that include betrayal, capture and sentencing to the mines. The childish Goddess of Love has fun with them, and the God of Thieves intervenes to help with an escape. There are betrayals around ever corner - Tarja barely escapes hanging, and R'shiel burning. She finds more family and new power and meets a dragon, and readers learn that the gods are 'tempering' her through their harsh manipulations for a dire purpose. Though its plot has its awkward moments, I enjoyed Medalon, which takes mother/daughter conflict to a whole new level. Its strength lies in fast-moving adventure and in banter between characters (including gods) that's reminiscent of the Eddings' Belgariad. I look forward to book 2, Treason Keep.

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