Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Cipher-Diana Pharaoh Francis

The Cipher
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Roc, Nov 2007, $7.99
ISBN 9780451461797

As a member of the royal family Lucy Trenton hides her skill from her relatives in order to remain safe. Besides the scandal that would devastate the Rampling even if she is so distant from the throne that she should not matter and the connection seems nebulous; she fears she would be a pawn if anyone learned she can detect magical artifacts and mages.

Occasionally she errs by using her talent to locate missing magical items, but normally recovers fast enough to conceal what she did. When she finds the missing Cipher, however this time she cannot cover up her activity that may lead to a magical disaster for the royals, the kingdom, and at a minimum her. She must hide the Cipher and herself with her only hope being the assistance of her current suitor, Marten Thorpe, but Lucy does not trust this ship captain as she assumes he has an agenda and if he learns what she harbors he will betray her; yet she desperately turns to him.

Lucy as a woman in peril turns this intriguing fantasy into a delightful read. She mentally beats herself up for her error in judgment as she has spent her life hiding her skills to avoid being the center of a scandal. She knows she might become the Butterfly of Chaos Theory. The romance between her and the grumpy Trenton is atypical as his wooing techniques fail, but his seafaring skills make him her only hope to weather the storm and prevent it from turning into a tsunami. Genre fans will enjoy Diana Pharaoh Francis’ fine character driven saga as Lucy learns any “Path” she chooses is at best personally disastrous.

Harriet Klausner

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