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    Review of A SCHOLAR OF MAGICS by Caroline Stevermer

    TOR, April 2004

    The Titanic is still setting speed records as it crosses the North Atlantic, the sun never sets on the British Empire, and the mages of Glasscastle University chant their wards and protect themselves and everyone nearby from evil. Britain, threatened by the German Empire, has embarked on an ultimate weapon--the Agincourt Project and has involved Glasscastle in its construction. American sharpshooter Samuel Lambert is a consultant, his aim with multiple weapons providing a benchmark for their efforts. But when his roommate disappears, Lambert suspects that something has gone very wrong.

    Beautiful Jane Brailsford isn't a teacher at Glasscastle--no woman would be allowed such a role--but she is does teach mathmatics at a rival university in France. She's in England on a mission central to the world's future. The warden of the West has refused to take up his position and the entire world is spinning toward disaster. Her task, set by the new warden of the North, is to persuade him to take up his post. If she can even find him. Because the new warden is Lambert's roommate, the two form an uneasy alliance.

    Author Caroline Stevermer (see more reviews of novels by Stevermer) puts her emphasis on world-building and the subtle interplay between characters. Jane and Lambert share an attraction that neither knows how to relate to in the world of Victorian manners and morals. Even as they try to determine what is keeping the warden from taking his job and what is wrong with the Agincourt project, their attentions are distracted by romance. Lambert's fascination with Jane is overshadowed by his fascination with Glasscastle itself--a university where Americans, especially working-class Americans like himself, would never be admitted.

    A SCHOLAR OF MAGICS is a leisurely journey through a time when manners mattered, when a woman's virtue could still be ruined, and when the vast speed of thirty-five miles an hour was almost unthinkable.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 5/18/04

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