In this sequel to 2012’s Touchstone, the novel’s final pages drive home the fact that this is only an intermediate volume in an ongoing series. Although the book does stand on its own, and Cade’s struggle against competing forces and his troupe’s efforts to prevail in adverse conditions are diverting and enjoyable, the reader is left feeling this book exists primarily to introduce conflicts that will resolve in later installments.
The magical theater troupe Touchstone ventures outside the borders of Albeyn, part of a mission to bring Prince Ashgar’s foreign bride-to-be home to the kingdom. But the troupe soon discovers other lands do not share Albeyn’s tolerant attitude toward magic and the Fae. And professional success is not paralleled by personal success: Mieka still careens through life on a chaotic path while playwright Cade, burdened by visions of possible futures, is increasingly haunted by the fear that he may not be able to pick his way past the tragic elsewhens he foresees. (TOR, Feb., 384 pp., $25.99)