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The Language of Power    by Rosemary Kirstein order for
Language of Power
by Rosemary Kirstein
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Language of Power follows The Steerswoman's Road and The Lost Steersman in a brilliant epic that gradually reveals a world of magic, sorcery, and demons (to both protagonist and reader) as a universe of science, technology and aliens. In the earlier episodes, steerswoman Rowan followed a trail of jewels to the Outskirts. She befriended Bel, loved and lost Fletcher, and learned that a Guidestar had fallen, with results that are likely to be devastating to both Outskirters and the Inner Lands. In The Lost Steersman, Rowan penetrated into the 'Demon Lands' where she discovered a surprising ally and learned how the Demon Folk communicate.

As this episode opens, Rowan and Bel return to Donner (where they barely survived inn-burning dragons soon after they first met). From her base in the Dolphin Inn, Rowan patiently makes friends of the townsfolk and asks questions, seeking knowledge of what happened to the town's old wizard Kieran -who bizarrely changed overnight from a ruthless killer of little girls to 'a sweet old man' who hosted 'star parties' for children, Rowan also needs to find out about Kieran's replacement Slado, now the master-wizard who has turned 'Routine Bioform Clearance' against the Outskirter tribes. Watching Rowan's back for watchers is Bel, who soon discovers two different parties interested in the steerswoman's activities - one turns out to be their old friend, Willam. In their years apart, he has learned valuable skills from the wizards, who call themselves 'Krue'.

Together, they defeat minions of the current Donner wizard Jannik, interfere with his control of his dragons, and even survive a direct confrontation with him. Rowan learns more about her ultimate enemy, Slado, including his appearance. She and Willam steal a dragon, breach Jannik's security, and search his home, at great risk to all concerned. And Will begins to teach Rowan the 'language of power' that controls the wizards' magic, and he tells her that their 'world is a much smaller place than you think it is'. Though Rosemary Kirstein is developing her main story slowly and tantalizingly, each episode is filled with more than enough personalities, puzzles and action to keep the reader's interest high - I hope we don't have to wait too long for more of this enthralling epic.

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