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The Three Sisters    by Rebecca Locksley order for
Three Sisters
by Rebecca Locksley
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The all-powerful Tari long exerted a benign influence on the island of Yarmar as healers and protectors. They do not kill, since their connection to the life spirit would make them share the experience of death. But after three Tari mages are betrayed by the High Chieftain of the Seagani, and fed to demons, the Tari withdraw to their central mountain lands of Ermora, leaving the outlanders to their own devices. When triplets (Elena, Yaninena and Marigoth) are born to the wife of one of the dead mages, their grandmother, disagreeing with the Tari Council, has them raised in secret in the outlands.

Elena Starchild's magic (also her vulnerability) is her beauty, which exerts a fatal attraction on outland men. Yani is a skilled warrior and Marigoth a mage so powerful that she has been able to keep herself from growing up. Marigoth appears to be a child even though her sisters are adults. Elena has loved and married a prince of the Mori, a nomadic forest people, and had a daughter, Alyx, by him. Her happiness ends abruptly when ruthless Mirayans (escaping their own civil war) invade, and kill her husband.

Elena and her daughter are taken captive by their leader Scarvan, and Elena is repeatedly ravished. Yani and Marigoth sail to their sister's aid, Yani disguised as a man, since the Mirayans keep their women secluded. What might have been a simple rescue, given their powers, is complicated by interventions of a secret group led by their Tari uncle Jagamar, and in particular by his agent, the cruel 'Lady of Birds'. Jagamar is manipulating events to fulfil a foreseeing about the three 'Miracle Sisters'. He believes that a child born by Elena to Duke Wolf Madraga will save Ermora from destruction.

The two sisters are helped by Mirayan aristocrat mage Ezratah, who eventually begins to see his own culture through the eyes of the conquered peoples, and to know the life spirit. Interactions between the wilful, powerful child mage Marigoth and her more mature, unmagical sister are entertaining as they quest together. There is action, magic and betrayals amongst the outlanders and in Ermora. As the book ends, Elena makes a bargain, Yani becomes 'the warbird', and Marigoth begins to grow up. The Three Sisters is solid fantasy adventure, with plenty of scope for future episodes.

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