This well turned out fantasy tells of the tensions rife between two races, the hardy, sea-faring and rather Nordic Eyrans, and their neighbors, the Istrians, a Moorish slave trading nation. A long and acrimonious history of war exists between these two peoples and though a fragile peace has reigned for the last twenty years or so, their ingrained hatred for each other means the wrongs and indignities suffered in battle are still fresh in their collective memories. A tenuous mercantile network though still allows the nations to trade with each other and the bulk of this takes place at the annual Allfair.
To her first Allfair comes Katla Aransen, a spirited and feisty young girl with flame-red hair, there with her father and her big, burly brothers to trade Sardonyx (a rare type of stone) and the weaponry she herself has beautifully fashioned from raw materials. Another first-time attendee is Saro Vingo, the younger brother to the bullying and deeply unpleasant Tanto. The Vingo’s are at the Allfair to sell off their livestock and negotiate a match for their first-born. The object of their interest is the daughter of Tycho Issian, a man happy to be rid of her so long as she brings him a large income in the process. To the Allfair also come, as they do every year, The Footloose, an exotic tribe of nomads, the gypsies of this world, full of mystery, and to which both Eyran and Istrains flock to in order to buy potions and charms. The Footloose are a wily people who know full well that power of their spells falls far short of the promise they offer it comes as some surprise therefore, when it is discovered that the magic they are peddling is far more potent than it ought to be.
The narrative of Sorcery Rising centers around a very small geographical area specifically the few fields in which the Allfair takes place - and it is this concentrated focus that gives this story its energy and drive and that makes it above everything else, simply a great read. Jude Fisher keeps things within these tight boundaries, managing never to run out of descriptive steam and using the close proximity of the two embittered peoples to fire the cauldron of their enmity for each other. It is a very impressive plot device, indeed, one of many Fisher gifts to the reader.
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu