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A Blackbird in Silver: The First Book in the Blackbird Series

by Freda Warrington

(Immanion Press, first published in 1986, this edition 2003.)

Review by Elizabeth Barrette

In addition to publishing new books, Immanion Press also releases some old favorites in revised editions. Here is the first of Freda Warrington's popular Blackbird series, freshly polished for the next cover scangeneration of readers.

This epic fantasy takes place in a world where the mortal Earth intersects three elemental planes: the White Plane Hrannekh Ol, the Black Plane Hrunnesh, and the Blue Plane H'tebhmella. Only the Blue Plane and its inhabitants are at all supportive of human life. Warrington's descriptions really bring it to life. Plaguing this world is the Serpent M'gulfn, an embodiment of pure evil. When it leaves its ancient home, it wreaks destruction on the pastoral land of Forluin.

Thus three heroes -- some more likely than others -- set out to destroy the reputedly indestructible monster. One is Ashurek of Gorethria, a formidable warrior with an ugly past; and unlike most stories, in this one, everybody recognizes him as the most feared and hated man in the world. The enigmatic one is Medrian of Alaak, survivor of Gorethria's conquest of her home; she is not only reticent but eerily indifferent to all but the quest. The third member is Estarinel, who witnessed the Serpent's attack on Forluin -- and while his compatriots initially think him gentle to the point of uselessness, he shows some unexpected and precious skills as the story evolves.

It's amazing how a good storyteller can make essentially unlikable characters appealing. Ashurek and Medrian are a mess, Estarinel sweet but so na´ve it's a wonder he survives. They can barely get along ... yet as time passes, they grow to care for each other as people, not just a means to the end of slaying the Serpent. They start working out the knots and tangles of their own lives, not just the wreck of their world. Watching the characters evolve offers much of the charm in this story.

A Blackbird in Silver brings together many favorite motifs from high fantasy, as the author notes in her preface: "The brooding anti-hero, the gentle race forced to fight for survival, the woman of mystery. Warriors, sorcerers, demons, weird dimensions. Horses and swords! The perfect, ultimate, impossible Quest." Yep. It's like walking up to your favorite ice-cream counter on a hot summer day and declaring, "Make me one with everything!" Recommended.

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