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Time Dancers    by Steve Cash order for
Time Dancers
by Steve Cash
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2006 (2006)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the second in a series that follows the Meq, immortals who don't visibly age past twelve until they find their Ameq (one true love), at which point they can choose at any time to become mortal, age, and bear children. The eldest Meq in the series have lived for thousands of years. In their childlike form, they can't contract diseases and heal very quickly, though they can still be killed. Through history, Basque tribes have allied with them as protectors.

The Meq are in a race against time to gather knowledge of their origins and destiny, as they must assemble in a mystical Remembering in less than a hundred years. Series protagonist Z (Zianno Zezen) is trying to find out their purpose, with help from both Giza (human) and Meq friends - the latter include Ray, Nova, Geaxi, Sailor, and Mowsel. Individual Meq from different tribes carry five magical black stones - Z holds the Stone of Dreams. Opposing Z is Meq assassin Fleur-du-Mal who seeks a mythical Sixth Stone.

This second episode opens in 1919 as Z, his soulmate Opari, and friends including human Carolina Covington Flowers, travel by train to the latter's home in St. Louis. From there, they wander away - as individuals and in groups - on long quests, returning periodically to share what they learn, and to note how the Giza amongst them have matured. Occasionally, along the way, there are violent confrontations with Fleur-du-Mal and his agents (in which the good guys seem surprisingly passive).

In this episode, Z and his Meq friends and mentors discover the existence of Susheela the Ninth, who may be the oldest Meq on Earth and who guards a very special black box inlaid with lapis lazuli in the shape of an octopus - does it contain the Sixth Stone? The search is soon on across continents, in competition with Fleur-du-Mal. But while Z and friends seek the ancient Meq, the psychopath sets traps for them. And along the way, readers learn more of his history and motivations.

This episode - which ends with a disastrous cliffhanger for Z - reminded me somewhat of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Count Saint-Germain series, meandering through time at the same leisurely pace, with frequent mentions of baseball history, and meetings with such luminaries as Charles Lindbergh (the Meq actually save his life). The reader is pulled through the pages by the intriguing puzzle that is the Meq. But it's not a series that can be easily entered in the middle - I strongly recommend starting with the first book, The Meq.

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