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by Lynn Kurland
(Berkley, $15.00, PG) ISBN 978-0425262191
Dreamspinner is the first book in the next trilogy about the Nine Kingdoms, and this world that Lynn Kurland has created is becoming more complex with each installment. Iíve read several of the previous books, and I was still lost at times. My recommendation is to go back and start with the first trilogy, which begins with Star of the Morning, and work your way up to this one.

Aisling is a weaver, abandoned by her parents at a young age to apprentice in the weaverís guild in a form of indentured servitude. Now in her twenties, she sees only another seven-year indenture before her, until she is given the opportunity to escape from her homeland. She is dragged to the border and pushed across it with the dire warning to find an assassin and return to liberate the people, or face a curse of death.

Alone, out of her element, her money stolen, Aislin manages to make her way to the stronghold of Scrimgeour Weger, a noted warlord-type who might be able to help her find a decent swordsman. Along the way she encounters Runath, an elven prince in disguise. Runath is the son of Gair, the dark mage who took Runathís powers away from him during a battle of good vs. evil. This battle, at a well, is the basis for all of the trilogies. Runathís face and hands are scarred, and his prowess as a swordsman has been severely hampered by the damage to his hands. His magical powers are gone. Heís been masquerading as a scholar for years.

Runath canít help wanting to assist Aisling, and their journey takes them from Scrimgeourís stronghold to the kingdom of Neroche, ruled by Runachís sister Morgan and brother-in-law Miach. Since Aisling declares she doesnít believe in magic, mages, elves, or anything else of the sort, Runath doesnít tell her who he is. In the meantime, Aisling seems to be developing magical powers of her own, related to her ability to weave and spin. In her proximity, Runathís ability to see magic around him seems to be returning.

One of the basic premises of the novel is that Aisling wonít tell Runach the truth of her quest because she afraid of the death curse that was supposedly laid on her. Yet she spends almost the entire novel protesting that there is no such thing as magic, meaning Runath wonít tell her the truth about his past. So mages and elves are out, but by golly, a death curse is serious business? Didnít work for me. After a while, I started to feel a bit manipulated, especially when I realized Iíd have to shell out another thirty dollars and wait two more years for the next two installments to see how this is going to end. Trilogies are fine, but Iím a firm believer that each novel should stand alone, and this novel doesnít. Be warned that there is only a faint whiff of romance, though Aisling and Runath are likeable characters and definitely have chemistry.

That said, the world building is interesting, and the writing is classic Lynn Kurland Ė fluid and graceful. The words and story flowed. If Iíd had a better memory of the previous books, it would have flowed a lot better, though. And by delaying books two and three until 2014 and 2015, I have to wonder if the author risks readers forgetting about this one entirely. Dreamspinner will be an enjoyable read for those who have followed the previous books; readers who are new to the series should probably start with the earlier volumes.

--Cathy Sova

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