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The Hallowed Hunt

by Lois McMaster Bujold

(Eos, 2005. U.S. $24.95 / Canada $32.95 hardback, 470 pages. ISBN: 0-06-057462- 3.)

Review by Elizabeth Barrette

cover scanLord Ingrey kin Wolfcliff finds himself stuck cleaning up a political mess. Prince Boleso, long rumored as a man of many vices, has gotten himself killed by a woman. It's no surprise that he was trying to rape her at the time, nor that his guards did nothing to intervene. But Ingrey was not expecting to find a dead leopard and other evidence of the prince dabbling in dark magic.

Ingrey himself knows more about dark magic than he'd like. He carries inside him the spirit of a wolf, as a result of his father's misguided dabblings. This is neither comfortable nor wholly legal, and Ingrey has survived by stubbornness and special dispensation. Now he finds that Prince Boleso had possessed not one but many animal spirits -- and the prince's intended victim, Lady Ijada, now carries the leopard's spirit.

As Ingrey attempts to convey Prince Boleso's body, along with Ijada, back to the capitol, even more magical entanglements come to light. The kingdom itself hangs in the balance, as the old Hallow King nears death and ancient spells pursue new victims. What is just and what is right are not always clear...

Though better known for her science fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold is developing an equally impressive gift for fantasy. Like The Curse of Chalion this novel deals with a set of five deities watching over a world which they can enter only through the actions of saints -- humans who willingly aid them and convey their power. The characters are compelling and far from perfect, and the joy of watching them is the joy of seeing people overcome tremendous obstacles. They are valiant personalities who have been generally shafted by life but who refuse to give up. They are intensely concerned about honor and duty and the importance of not making a mess of the world.

The Hallowed Hunt holds the most appeal for Bujold fans. Fantasy readers will love it, especially those into court intrigue. There's enough of a romance thread to carry over into fans of that genre too. Most highly recommended.

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