The first three books published in the Mageworlds series can be thought of as either a trilogy or a stand-alone and a duology. It is convenient to consider them a trilogy because they feature the same characters and time period, which have not yet appeared in any other Mageworlds book, but the other description is more accurate when it comes to plot.
Beka Rosselin-Metadi is the youngest child of Pereda Rosselin, hereditary ruler of Entibor, and Jos Metadi, privateer turned General. Her parents became famous in the Magewar by defeating the invading Magelords despite the razing of Entibor. Beka wants no part of politics, fame, or the position of Domina-in-Waiting: she just wants to fly, and runs away at 17 to join a ship's crew. In The Price of the Stars, the family ties she cut come back to haunt her: her mother is assassinated, and her father offers her his old ship if she'll find out the names of the conspirators. Beka, not being one to do things halfway, ends up tracking down the conspirators herself—with the help of a few people she picks up along the way, including a mysterious former House Rosselin retainer known as the Professor, a kidnapped Space Force officer, her big brother, and an Adept.
Summarized in that fashion, the novel sounds like second-rate Star Wars fan fiction, and it's true that the universe feels rather like Star Wars with the serial numbers rubbed off. However, Price is a lively, entertaining space opera with interesting characters and a fast-paced plot, so I didn't particuarly mind.
The next two books, Starpilot's Grave and By Honor Betray'd, are something rather different. This is no longer a matter of one political figure's assassination—though Pereda Rosselin remains important in some surprising ways—this is the story of the Second Magewar. The series neatly distinguishes itself from fanfic here by turning a number of the reader's and the characters' assumptions on their heads. Suddenly Good and Evil is a dubious dichotomy, and Right and Wrong can be found in some unexpected places... This is not to say that the books become dull, windy sermons; on the contrary, they remain entertaining, energetic space operas. They're simply entertaining, energetic space operas with more than one moral dimension. It's true they aren't perfect books: for one thing, the conclusion of By Honor Betray'd is a bit over-tidy; for another, some plot devices remain unexplained. However, they're good clean non-mindless fun, and so I recommend them all the same.
[There are three other books in the same universe. The Long Hunt features the next generation of the Rosselin-Metadi clan; The Gathering Flame tells how Pereda Rosselin and Jos Metadi met; and The Stars Asunder (forthcoming July '99 in hardcover) will cover the Professor's early life. I haven't read any of these yet, but I intend to.]
%T The Price of the Stars %A Doyle, Debra %A Macdonald, James %C New York %D 1992 %G 0-812-51704-0 %I Tor %P 440pp %S Mageworlds %V Book 1 %O paperback %T Starpilot's Grave %A Doyle, Debra %A Macdonald, James %C New York %D 1993 %G 0-812-51705-9 %I Tor %P 442pp %S Mageworlds %V Book 2 %O paperback %T By Honor Betray'd %A Doyle, Debra %A Macdonald, James %C New York %D 1994 %G 0-812-51706-7 %I Tor %P 407pp %S Mageworlds %V Book 3 %O paperback
Copyright April 23, 1999 by Kate Nepveu.