A Dark Sacrifice
Eos, Dec 2007, $14.95, 432 pp.
Ouriana is the Divine Incarnation of the Devouring Moon, strong in magic due to the deity that resides in her. Like her, it feeds on blood and death and works only dark sorceries. She is impregnable and is served by the Furiadhim, mutated beings who were once men who wield black magic. The only thing that Ouriana fears is the prophecy that states one of her blood will overthrow her. Her niece Winloki is the child of the prophecy all grown up and living in Skyrana in the north adopted by King Ristil who is at war with the Eislanders.
Winloki, a healer accompanies Prince Kivlik and his relative Skerry to battle but they are overrun and find themselves trapped in the fortress at Tirfang. A small group who want Winloki to fulfill the prophecy are marfching to the fortree including the powerful healer Sinderian, her dead father who takes the shapes of various birds and the half-Faey fPrince Ruan. The people are under siege from giants, shapechangers and Eislanders. When Winloki is kidnapped by the Furiadhim, the siege ends; her allies go out to find and rescue her. Both groups face danger from various creatures and supernatural beings.
A DARK SACRIFICE is a wonderful fantasy set in a world where magic is taken for granted and dwarves, the fae and other creatures of myth and legend are real and dangerous to humans. Readers will feel sorry for Winloki who has to adjust her conception of herself and admire Sinderian who is willing to do whatever it takes to defeat Ouriana. These strong willed independent women come to realize the power that resides within them and make difficult choices according to their nature. Madeline Howard is a first rate fantasist.