Literature: Stranger at the Wedding

Stranger at the Wedding (also published as Sorcerer's Ward) is a fantasy novel by Barbara Hambly, with elements of Regency romance and murder mystery. It is set in Ferryth, the magical land from The Windrose Chronicles, but is not part of that series.

Kyra Peldyrin, a wizard-in-training, returns to the family home she left under a cloud years earlier. Her younger sister Alix is about to go in an Arranged Marriage to master merchant Blore Spenson, and Kyra has received a series of omens warning that if the wedding goes ahead as planned, Alix will die on the wedding night. Kyra sets out to discover who has it in for Kyra and save her life, while navigating her uncertain relationship with the family she has not seen for so long. Added complications include the revelation that Alix is in love with someone other than her husband-to-be, and Kyra's growing realisation that she's not entirely uninterested in Blore Spenson herself.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Apothecary Alligator: In the dog wizard Tibbeth's shop.
    A mummified crocodile hung from the low rafters overhead
  • Arranged Marriage: Alix Peldyrin to Blore Spenson. Neither is particularly interested; it's more in the way of a political and business arrangement between their respective fathers.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: According to the author's official web site, the leads of Stranger at the Wedding are Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.
  • Costume Porn: Stranger at the Wedding is an example of detailed clothing description being used well to reveal character and setting.
  • Crash-Into Hello: She is looking where she's going, but she's not used to the elaborate dress she's wearing, trips on the hem, and falls straight into his arms.
  • Low Fantasy: No toppling empires or worlds in peril here, just a single merchant family and somebody with a grudge.
  • Market-Based Title: Sorcerer's Ward (Stranger at the Wedding)