SISTERS OF THE RAVEN (4.5) is the long-awaited new fantasy from Barbara Hambly. Male wizards are losing their powers to women, and they don't like it. In the Yellow City, the patriarchal society can't accept that new powers are manifesting in daughters, mothers, wives and concubines. There isn't even a word to describe magical women, so they call themselves Sisters of the Raven, after the legendary bird. Raeshaldis is the first woman accepted into the College of Mages, and bitter hazing makes life unbearable. Summer Concubine, the king's favorite, gathers her Raven sisters for training and fellowship. When the sisters start disappearing, Raeshaldis and Summer Concubine join forces to track down the magical killer. Building a new world, populating it with likeable characters, and injecting wry humor and subtle romance into the dialogue is something Ms. Hambly does with great panache. (Aug., 368 pp., $13.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper