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Hawkspar: A Novel of Korre    by Holly Lisle order for
by Holly Lisle
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sacrifice and a doomed romance feature prominently in Hawkspar: A Novel of Korre by Holly Lisle, author of various popular fantasy series including the The Secret Texts and The World Gates. Lisle's heroine was enslaved as a Tonk child, to grow up nameless in the harsh world of the Ossalene Citadel.

As the story opens, the young penitent is summoned by Oracle Hawkspar, a Living Goddess and the Eyes of War. The girl and others 'put together a fine, fine conspiracy' - now she fears it's been discovered. But, to the contrary, Oracle Hawkspar, who is also a Tonk, is aware of her planned escape and has been protecting her. The Oracle warns of a great threat to annihilate the Tonk race, and asks the penitent to be her successor, and do what it takes to save her people. The girl agrees to the sacrifice - not only of the light of the sun and colors, but eventually of her life - and, after a trial by Oracles opposing Hawkspar and her mentor's death, assumes the Eyes, their power to see the future and pause the flow of time, and the insidious risk that their use creates for the wearer to succumb to the control of an ancient evil.

In parallel with this reluctant - and extremely painful - assumption of stone eyes of power, we meet Aaran av Savissha. He uses magic as a tracker for wolf-ships seeking to free Tonk children from slavery. Aaran has dedicated his life to the search for his sister Aashka, long since taken as a slave. Now, he dreams of a captive Tonk girl who begs him to rescue her from extreme danger. When his ship captain refuses to risk the perilous voyage required to reach her location, Aaran and his friend Tuua purchase a ship of their own and hire crew for a perilous voyage through unknown seas. They survive many dangers to arrive at the Citadel just as it comes under attack by enemies. During the confusion, Hawkspar and her co-conspirators lead hundreds to freedom.

But boarding Aaran's ship is only the beginning. As strong feelings develop between Aaran and the new Hawkspar, they face a wizard, cannibals, numerous battles, and traitors from within. When they learn who is behind the widespread attacks on Tonk peoples, they take the fight to the heart of the enemy, at a high cost. In Hawkspar, Holly Lisle offers readers a solid fantasy adventure with unusual magic in an intriguing world. Though I don't find it as good her World Gates series, it's well worth reading for fantasy fans.

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