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by Melanie Rawn
A Tor Book, 2014, $25.99, 382pp
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
The third volume of the definitely-more-than-a-trilogy Thorn books opens with Cayden Silversun celebrating his Namingday with feasting, revelry, and magically enhanced entertainment. Thorn-induced illusions overlay his perceptions, and his elsewhen visions show his many alternate possible futures, things that “might-be or could-be or must-never-be.”

Two surprises enter Cade’s life that night. One is the travelling carriage specially built to transport Touchstone - Cayden, Mieka, Rafe and Jeska – on their theatrical rounds; the other is the overwhelming connection that establishes itself between himself and the infant daughter of his best friend/betrayer.

Touchstone is a company on the rise, but their rivals, the troupe called Black Lightning, have the patronage of the Archduke himself. Cade’s elsewhen glimpses into reality have warned him of some of the dangers that beset them – but by no means of all. Fortunately for Cade, the worst trap is nullified by Mistress Mirdley, who knows the significance of names, and how to spot harmful magics where others would only see a wonderfully crafted gift fit for a princeling.

The significance and whereabouts of the long-lost elven Treasure, the Rights of the Fey, the necklace and crown that would convey authority over the elves, have been discovered, and now the fate of the Treasure lies between those who would leave the artifacts alone and those who would seize them for their power.

What sets this series apart from any other fantasy I have ever read is the soul-searing, forthright way Melanie Rawn depicts how it feels and what it means to love creating, making, crafting. Even the villains are creative – it’s just that they are also bent on coercing, controlling, and manipulating others, and accumulating inordinate amounts of power for themselves. The good guys more or less want to live-well-and-let-live. But even the best of them must face a darker side at this stage of their adventures. This is exactly why fiction is so essential, because sometimes truths can only be told as stories, myths, fantasies or plays. The author has really hit her stride with Thornlost, and I hope the next book is on its way. ~~ Chris R. Paige

Click here for a review of the first book, Touchstone and here for a review of book two, Elsewhens

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