Catherine Asaro expands on her tale "Moonglow," in the Charmed Destinies anthology, in THE CHARMED SPHERE (4), a radical departure from her Skolian Empire science-fiction saga. Country girls Chime and Iris are brought to Castle Suncroft after it's discovered they're shape-mages, rare magic-workers who use shape and color to focus their great powers. Their arrival has unforeseen consequences for Prince Muller, the reluctant heir to the throne, and his entire kingdom. In the country of Aronsdale, princes and kings marry for magic, and the two commoners become part of the royal family at a time when war looms and their magecraft is desperately needed. While traditional fairy-tale elements are thrown about with abandon, Asaro's skillful handling of these clichés merges them into a light, enjoyable romantic fantasy about the healing power of love. (Feb., 462 pp., $13.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum