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    Review of HOUSE OF WAR by Judith Tarr (see her website)

    ROC, November 2003

    The old man of the mountain, Sinan, king of assassins, was defeated and killed, but Hell itself cannot hold him. Sinan is raising new armies against the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, and his magic seems stronger than ever. King Richard the Lion Hearted sees his knights vanish and knows he needs to march out to battle, but he knows he is no mage--and Sinan can only be defeated by a magic more powerful than anyone has seen in two thousand years.

    When Sinan captures her daughter, Siomed, half-sister to Richard, nearly goes crazy. Her husband and her friends call her back to reality. No matter how powerful her magic, she can't simply strike back. Sinan will absorb her power and turn it against those she loves. They need a tool--and in Jerusalem, the ultimate tool is the lost Arc of the Covanent. But the Arc has been lost for two thousand years and, even if it is found, only a few oppressed Jews know how to work its magic.

    Author Judith Tarr (see more reviews of novels by Tarr) paints a wonderful picture of an alternate history where magic is real, where Richard found a compromise in his crusade and built a crusader nation that welcomes people of many faiths, and where Christian, Jewish, Moslem, and pagan magicians strive in the perpetual battle against evil. Tarr's skillful use of the danger to Siomed's children increases the story's emotional intensity as does the growing affection between Mustafa and Giuliano. I also appreciated the sensitive way Tarr handled the cultural differences amongst her protagonists--using it to strengthen the story rather than glossing over it.

    HOUSE OF WAR is a sequel to DEVIL'S BARGAIN (see our review) and is, if anything, an even stronger work. This is alternate history fantasy at its best.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/19/04

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