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Elsewhens: The Glass Thorns #2    by Melanie Rawn order for
by Melanie Rawn
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Elsewhens follows Touchstone as the second in Melanie Rawn's Glass Thorns series, that blends fantasy and the stage, in a world filled with different magical races.

Touchstone introduced Cade Silversun, a Wizard/tregetour (a playwright who magically charges glass wands for performances). Cade formed a troupe with skilled fettler Rafe, masquer Jeska, and glisker Mieka, a capricious Elf with huge talent. As their success grew, influential Lord Fairwalk became their manager, embroiling them in Court politics.

Cade was increasingly tortured by visions of future disaster, elsewhens mainly involving Mieka and the lovely, manipulative woman who will become his wife. And though Mieka begged him to share what he saw, Cade refused to do so, afraid knowing the possibilities might influence Mieka. Melanie Rawn intersperses these elsewhens throughout her story.

In Elsewhens, Touchstone is hired to be part of an embassy to the Continent to escort their future queen (Tregrefina Miriuzca) back to Albeyn to wed the dissolute Prince Ashgar. The Archduke stands in for the Prince on the journey. Mieka suspects Lord Fairwalk of having engineered events. Theater groups have not played for a long time on the Continent, where magic is feared and forbidden.

En route Cade discovers that powerful magic is used on the Continent, but secretly. Touchstone falls afoul of the Archduke, who wants to give them a theater and own them - but why? Cade is attracted to Tregrefina's intelligent companion, Lady Vrennerie. Working on a new performance, Cade has visions of a Fae treasure, a powerful necklet and a crown. And Mieka marries, as Cade has long foreseen and dreaded.

As in the first book, the plot develops slowly (a bit too slowly for my taste), lingering on Touchstone's performances, tensions within the troupe, and the creative process. The episode ends with enough revelations of the Archduke's plans to exploit Cade's powers to tantalize readers. I look forward to more.

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