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The Wizard Hunters: Book One of The Fall of Ile-Rien    by Martha Wells order for
Wizard Hunters
by Martha Wells
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Wizard Hunters is the first of what looks to be an epic series, The Fall of Ile-Rien, set in the same world as The Death of the Necromancer. I recommend reading the latter first (I hadn't and often felt like I was missing useful background information.) The story opens at the family estate of Coldcourt in Vienne, Ile-Rien, where its engagingly practical heroine is researching ways to kill herself that would be assumed natural causes. The mystery of why Tremaine Valiarde is suicidal pulls the reader's interest through this first episode.

It turns out that Ile-Rien is under siege by, and quickly losing ground to, the mysterious Gardier, who are able to negate magical defenses. Tremaine's father, a powerful wizard who combined criminal activities with seemingly altruistic ones, disappeared some time before as did her sorceror uncle Arisilde. Tremaine's guardian Gerard shows up at Coldcourt, looking for a sphere that uncle Ari gave to Tremaine as a child. It's needed for the war effort but only works in her presence. As a result, Tremaine joins Gerard, young female wizard Florian, and intelligence officer Ander on a mission that takes them through a gateway to another world and a Gardier island base, where they try to do damage and avoid the bad guys.

Locals Giliead and Ilias have no reason to trust wizards, having barely succeeded in decapitating the evil Ixion after he cursed Ilias. Now they're scouting the island in search of another sorceror to explain activity observed there. After encounters with Ixion's leftover monstrous minions, capture by the Gardier and escape, Tremaine and Florian unite their group with Ilias's people. They win points with the latter by actions against the Gardier, who have quite a few surprises of their own, including a very nasty ally. Through a great deal of excitement and action, Tremaine's sphere acts more and more independently. What empowers it to do so and why does so much history in this world correspond with events in Tremaine's plays?

Tremaine is a wonderful personality. Florian sees her as two people, 'One is a flighty artist, and I like her. The other one is bloody-minded and ruthless and finds scary things funny, and I'm not sure I like her very much; but whenever we're about to die, she's the one who gets all three of us through it alive.' Readers will like her too and enjoy the contrasts in her character. The Wizard Hunters is an exciting, intriguing start to Wells' new series and I look forward very much to its next episode.

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