Heart of Light
Sarah A. Hoyt
Bantam, Mar 2008, $6.99
In an alternate world, Queen Victoria rules the British Empire; she and all the descendents of Charlemagne have magic since he stole the ruby Soul of Fire from an African tribe. The magic is diffused throughout the empire with the commoners having very little and the aristocrats being powerful mages. The anarchists are starting to rebel as they demand freedom and magic.
To quell the trouble, the Queen sends Nigel Oldhall to Africa to find the matching ruby Heart of Light so that Her Highness can bind all the magic in the world to her and her descendants. Nigel brings his new bride Emily with him for trip on the Carpetship. She thinks they are going on a honeymoon as Nigel failed to enlighten her that he is on a mission for the queen. Also seeking the Heart of Light is the Hyena Men, rebels who want to bind the ruby to African control. When Emily learns what her spouse kept from her, she is furious and turns to two other men for comfort. She is unaware that someone else, whom Nigel knows all too well, tracks them as he plans to obtain the ruby for his personal control of magic.
Sarah A. Hoyt provides a great historical fantasy that looks deep into how people feel under outside rule as Victoria rules the continent while the Africans loath the invaders’ domination of their land; thus readers have a scathing social commentary on colonization and occupying armies interwoven into the plot. Emily, Nigel, their companion Peter, and their guide Kitwanna are all characters made better by the quest for the ruby. There are many shocking revelations throughout the exhilarating story line; so much so that the audience will be tempted to read the five hundred plus pages in one sitting.