is a semi-traditional fantasy novel by Anne B. Walsh
, set on her original world of Trycanta, which human beings (also known as nequor (NEH-quoar) ) share with races known as lyrror (LIE-rroar), or "greatcats", and mazor (MAH-zoar), or "dragons". It is the first in the Tales of Anosir, and will be followed by Snowball
, and Commencement
The story follows Vani, a Cinderella figure for whom the striking of midnight is her freedom, as it allows her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Shroca (whom she believed dead), to find her in her captivity and free her. She is whisked away to the palace of the King of Anosir, where she learns that she is a child of prophecy, fated to marry King Malak. To this end, she immediately enters intense lessons in the proper behavior and training of a court lady, though she finds time to make friends, most of whom her parents do not approve.
The shadow looming over Vani's life is that of her former captors, especially Tyle Volanna, the young man with whom her blood was mingled when she was stolen from her parents as a baby, enabling him to steal her powerful magic and use it as his own. Though her parents assure her that the bond between them is blocked, she still wonders if that bond might be prejudicing her towards sympathy with the dangerous dissenters against the King's reign, many of whom are partially or wholly lyrro or mazo (the King fears the non-human races greatly).
Vani also wishes that her parents would show her more affection, rather than simply being coldly proud of her. Her friends are wonderful, but she has always longed for a true mother and father, and finds them (two of each, even!) in her music teachers, brother and sister minstrels Cat and Skylark; Cat's wife Rye, a cook at the palace; and Skylark's husband Trey, a woodcarver and storyteller. With the help of their simple, whole-hearted approval and love, Vani starts to blossom as the scholar and lady she was born to be.
When Vani finally realizes that the fairy-tale destiny named in her prophecy is nothing she wants, it may already be too late. Will she be able to trick her fate into allowing her a true Homecoming?
This novel provides examples of:
- Arranged Marriage: Vani and King Malak are prophesied to marry
- Blue Blood: Many of the characters are aristocrats or members of the landed gentry.
- Expy: Fans of the the author's other works will no doubt be amused to notice the similarities between Trycanta's pantheon and members of the Pack and the Pride from the Dangerverse
- The author acknowledges it too, but has taken care that those who haven't read any of the Dangerverse can still follow the story
- Fantastic Racism: The King detests all non-humans.
- In Medias Res: The story starts after Vani has been rescued by her parents.
- Interspecies Romance: The Lyrror and Mazor can transform themselves into human shape and interbreed with humans. This transformation costs them; Lyrror tend to suffer swelling of the joints, while the Mazor cannot walk without pain. Offspring can freely switch between the forms of the two parents, though their non-dominant form will still suffer the same ailments.
- Love at First Sight: Carle and Modi
- Magitek: Sir Drale is building a toaster with a fire spell to replace the heating elements.
- Mega Neko: The lyrror
- No Pronunciation Guide: Averted; there's a pronunciation key in the front of the book.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Aysi. Lady Gelinza as well
- Playing with Fire: Fire mages, such as Cat and Stefane
- The Voiceless: Mazor are perfectly capable of vocal speech, but consider it incredibly crass and barbaric. They prefer to communicate with sign language.