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The Heart Of Myrial
Maggie Furey
This fast-moving adventure opens Maggie Furey's second fantasy sequence, "The Shadowleague"; her first was the "Artefacts of Power" tetralogy. The Heart of Myrial is set in a particularly artificial-seeming fantasyland, which proves to be not a world but a technomagical construct, divided into isolated regions by sorcerous barriers of force. Thanks to the machinations of a bad guy who may have good motives, these "curtain walls" are now failing--the first symptoms being clashes between the enclaves' different environments, leading to prolonged descriptions of truly lousy weather. In theory the barriers are guarded by and can be penetrated only by Loremasters of the Shadowleague, a secret inner circle of representatives from this patchwork world's various species: humans, dragons, centaurs, wind-sprites, insectile aliens, and more. In practice the Shadowleague is almost impotent.

Against this complex background, various characters struggle across the landscape through terrible weather. A woman Loremaster and her irrepressibly feisty firedrake companion play leading parts in the large cast (many of whom suffer death or worse). After tortuous regroupings and plot twists centered on a particular city that houses a key magical shrine, the book concludes with a gory invasion of nasties through the holed curtain wall. It reads well enough, and of course there's more to come. --David Langford,

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