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    Review of SEBASTIAN by Anne Bishop (see her website)


    ROC, February 2006

    For as long as anyone can remember, the Eater of Worlds has been trapped, virtually harmless. But people forget even the worst terrors and the wall is not guarded, the lock rusty. A careless girl decides to break the rules and explore--and the Eater is loose once more. Feeding on all of the dispair in the multitudes of miniworlds that make up the Ephemera, the Eater senses only one possible enemy--Landscaper Glorianna Belladona.

    Glorianna has been condemned and hunted by both Landscapers and wizards. She alone blends the powers of light and darkness. Yet even she is not beyond despair, and the Eater's powers are vast. To succeed where a host of Landscapers failed ages before seems beyond any hope. Still, Glorianna is not alone. Her brother Lee, and her cousin, Incubus Sebastian, have powers of their own (Lee a bridge and Sebastian an Incubus with wizard abilities). But Sebastian has spent years living in darkness, wallowing in sensual pleasures and hiding from real love. Is this the kind of foundation a defense can be built on?

    Sebastian's life is changed when a lonely young woman sends out her heart-wish through the multiple miniworlds of the ephemera. She wants to find someone she can love, someone who can love her--and Sebastian invites her to come to him. The alliance between Sebastian and Lynnea becomes the basis by which Sebastian can begin to see the truth about himself.

    Author Anne Bishop (see more reviews of novels by Bishop) creates a high-potential fantasy universe in the launch novel in her Ephemera series. A universe of mini-worlds, connected by magical bridges that send people where their hearts resonate rather than were they consciously wish to go, a group of Landscapers who attempt to hold the lands together, wizards who deal out justice, but who clutch a secret close to their hearts, and the deadly enemy all add up to powerful world-building.

    For my tastes, Bishop didn't quite live up to the potential of her universe in this story. The central relationship between Sebastian and Lynnea might have been critical to Sebastian's coming of age, but it isn't clear that it was really critical to the battle against the eater. Even Sebastian's magical use of his incubus talents as the story headed into its climax wasn't really shown to affect anything.

    Although I would have liked to see Bishop weave together the romantic and heroic fantasy subplots more seamlessly, SEBASTIAN is an enjoyable read. Bishop is a skillful wordsmith and draws readers into the story, keeping us turning the page to see what happens next. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 4/10/06

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