With THE OUTSTRETCHED SHADOW (4), Mercedes Lackey teams with James Mallory for a new series about the costs of freedom. The city of Armethalieh is ruled by mages working high magick, which keeps the city peaceful and prosperous. Kellen, son of the arch-mage, feels strangled by magical constraints and searches for something more. When he finds the forbidden Books of Wild Magic—magic worked from the heart and not hedged by rules—he finds his true powers. Kellen is then banished and barely escapes. He finds himself in a world where the magic he has learned about is more than words, and his companions are wildmages, elves and unicorns. Detailed world-building and strong characterizations save this novel from becoming a stereotypical coming-of-age epic. We care about Kellen and his pals, and are eager to see how they'll extricate themselves from each new peril and, presumably, save their world. (Oct., 608 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum