Wings of Wrath
Daw, Feb 2009, $25.95
Kamala the witch understood the use of spells by females drained them with each deployment of their life essence until they died. However, instead of death, she changes into an immortal Magister in spite of no record of a female ever being such. She worries that the Souleaters with their wasting disease have returned in full force.
Kamala knows they were defeated once before, but has no idea how. She desperately rushes off to the only place where the needed information may exist, the northern barrier, the Wrath of the Gods, to learn the truth though she has little hope of finding anything useful. However, she learns much more than she wanted to know; returning with a dreadful prophecy that can only mean war with little chance of victory for her side.
Book Two of the Magister Trilogy (see FEAST OF SOULS) is an enjoyable quest fantasy, but also suffers from the middle book syndrome as no major thread is closed out, but instead left dangling for the final tale. Still, C.S. Freidman’s paints a grim world with a differing morality as most magic practitioners, especially females, pay the price for using enchantments with their lives. This over time suicidal tendency that life is expendable sets the tone in which what appears malevolent to readers is the norm in this society in which there are no heroes or villains (except perhaps the anomaly Kamala) only opponents as survival of the fittest actually is survival of the amoral shrewdest.