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Airs and Graces    by Toby Bishop order for
Airs and Graces
by Toby Bishop
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2007 (2007)
Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Airs and Graces, the second novel of Toby Bishop's Horsemistress Saga, is exactly what the second book of a trilogy should be. Darker than the first novel, Airs Beneath the Moon, it is filled with war, chaos and despair, but also enough hope to promise a righting of all wrongs in the final installment.

While on a break before they enter their second level at the Academy of Air, Larkyn Hamley (now Black) and her friend Hester witness a raid by barbarians on a fishing village. They fly off to get help, but it arrives too late. Rosellen, the Academy's stable girl, is killed and two village children are captured as slaves. Duke William is too wrapped up in trying to breed a new bloodline of winged horse that will carry men to do anything about the attack on his duchy.

When word of the raid reaches the Prince's palace, Baron Rys of Klee (a neighboring land once at war with Oc) volunteers his men to bring back the children if his daughter can be bonded to a winged horse. With the help of the Duke's younger brother, Lord Francis Fleckingham, and of Phillipa Winter, the Academy of Air's assistant headmistress, Baron Rys sets out to rescue the children while Amelia Rys travels to the Academy of Air to await a bondmate and learn the ropes from Larkyn. Phillipa's actions do nothing to help her strained relationship with Duke William, who is falling faster and faster into madness - no one might be able to save her from a fate worse than death.

While Airs and Graces is by no means a fast read, Bishop does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the lives of the students and horsemistresses of the Academy of Air. This time she introduces new characters - who are just as well-formed as the already established ones - but we also get to learn more about the original characters. The more the reader gets to know about them, the more the reader feels connected to them. I know there was one point where I was cheering on one of the main characters during a particularly dismal event.

In Airs and Graces, Toby Bishop shows that she has what it takes to create a fantasy trilogy specifically aimed at a female readership. The story left off in the perfect spot for readers to absolutely need to find out how the Horsemistress Saga concludes.

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