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A Working of Stars    by Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald order for
Working of Stars
by Debra Doyle
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This is the seventh volume in the Mageworlds series, and the authors have written a number of other SF and fantasy novels, but for some peculiar reason, this is the first time I have encountered this very talented husband and wife writing team. As I understand it, the early books in the series were set in the Eraasian worlds, separated from the rest of the Galaxy by the Gap Between, an empty and impassable rift. On these worlds, ruled by competing great families both land- and space-based, works of magic were achieved by Mage-Circles, though for great workings, conflict and bloodshed are necessary elements.

Ten years before the time of this novel, Arekhon sus-Khalgath sus-Peledaen (sus- denoting blood or adopted membership of a Family, syn- an adherent but not a Family member) had taken part in a Great Working of his Mage-Circle designed to reunite a Galaxy long divided by the Gap Between. The Working was not properly completed when the Circle was broken, but so much energy and so much blood had been expended in the Working that it cannot end while any of the remaining members of the Circle live.

Arekhon has left his native planet to live in exile on the other side of the Gap, with his old love Elaeli Inadi, but he is experiencing strange dreams and visions calling him homeward, even though his Circle has been broken, his brother has tried to kill him, and his homeworlds are in the midst of massive social and cultural upheaval. The great fleet families are fighting between themselves for exclusive rule, and the Peledaen family is led by Arekhon's brother who is prepared to go to any lengths to succeed.

I had a very difficult time getting into the story. There are so many different characters with such complicated names that I was tempted to give up, start afresh, and go all the way back to the first book in the series. However, my perseverance was soon rewarded. Although the narrative suffers somewhat from the alternation between action on either side of the Gap Between, the authors have an interesting and exciting tale to tell and they tell it very well indeed. I now intend to go back to the first entry in the series and read my way through it.

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