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    NIGHT OF MADNESS by Lawrence Watt-Evans


    TOR, November, 2000

    Lord Hanner enjoys a life of moderate success and moderately hard work. His uncle, Lord Faran, is chief counselor to the prince and Hanner helps him keep track of magic. Then, on the night of madness, magic gets out of hand. An entirely new branch of magic, named warlock, is unexpectedly visited on thousands of formerly non-magical citizens. Some vanish, some decide to use their magic powers for theft, and some embark on bloody revenge for real or imagined evils done against them. Both Hanner and his uncle are among those blessed, or cursed, with warlock powers.

    The rulers of Ethshar, and the wizards who enforce them, have long-standing rules against this type of use of magic. Worse, the majority of citizens who did not become warlocks, turn against their former peers seeking to have all warlocks exiled or executed. When the prince joins those calling for exile, Faran decides to resist and gathers a group of warlocks under his leadership. Hanner doesn't want to be executed any more than anyone else, but he sees the merit in the rules that separate political from magical power. Do they really want to concentrate both in one man--even if it is his uncle?

    Lawrence Watt-Evans (click here to see reviews of other books by this author) writes with a highly readable style. The moral dilemna Hanner faces drives the novel forward and invests the reader with an ownership stake in the outcome. Hanner's limited luck with women adds to his charm--he isn't the typical hero.

    For a writer of Watt-Evans' talent, I was surprised that the question of what caused the night of madness, and what mysterious force causes the most powerful warlocks to fly away and abandon everyone and everything was not dealt with. Perhaps this is being left to a sequel (and I will look forward to reading it). Still, these questions are fundamental to the plot, yet the characters never seem to get up the energy to pursue them. Readers who are able to suspend disbelief on this issue will find NIGHT OF MADNESS highly rewarding.

    Three Stars

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