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Friday, August 13, 2010

The Light of the Oracle by Victoria Hanley

I recently read another book by Victoria Hanley, and so decided to try The Light of the Oracle (New York: Random House, 2005). It's a good sword and sorcery book for young adults. ("Young adult" seems to mean something to the people who categorize library books than it means to everyone else.)

The book covered by this post seems to take place in the same kingdom/continent/something as the first one I read, but the two are quite independent. I'll give away a bit of the setting and the plot, but not a lot. The location for most of the action is a religious center, where a priest presides over priestesses and priests and priestesses in training, as well as soldiers and other servants. The religion is a pantheon of gods, at least some of which are both spirits and extra-terrestrial astronomical bodies (there is a brief glossary which helps a bit in understanding all this.) One of those gods is evil, and enables devotees to cast curses.

The book opens with the Master Priest coming to an obscure village, and selecting Bryn, a young adolescent, as a priestess in training. The Priest has been guided to do this supernaturally. On the way back to the Temple, however, Bryn, the girl, sees another young woman beside a desert road. Everyone else ignores her, but Bryn throws her a water bottle. Later, Bryn comes to know the outcast as Selid, and to know that Selid has ability to predict the future. (So does Bryn.) Bryn also comes to know that the Master Priest is using the predictive ability that he, and the other priests and priestesses, adult or in training, have, to do some political maneuvering. Finally, Bryn and her best friends, all of low-class stock, rebel, and are able to overthrow and kill the Master Priest. In the process, Selid sees that she, herself, will be killed, but is willing to suffer this, so that good may prevail over evil, which it does in the end.

An exciting book, well worth my time to read. I hope to read more Hanley.

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