The Sorceress of Karres
by Eric Flint & Dave Freer
Cover Artist: Stephen Hickman
Review by Carolyn Frank
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439133071
Date: 05 January 2010 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Goth, the middle sister of the three daughters of Threbus and Toll, is becoming The Sorceress of Karres. In the original Hugo-nominated (1967) the Witches of Karres by James Schmitz, Captain Pausert rescues Goth and her sisters from enslavement in the Empire world of Porlumma, they survive many adventures aboard his merchant spacecraft, the Venture 7333, and eventually meet back up with the witches' parents on their home planet of Karres. With her older sister now married, Goth and her little sister, the Leewit, are off again with Captain Pausert to investigate the Chaladoor, a mysterious and dangerous section of space.
The inhabitants of Karres all have varying abilities to access klatha, a magical essence. Klatha can be used to teleport objects or people or, with enough power, the planet Karres itself. Klatha can be used to make people invisible or visible as someone else. Klatha can be used to power a spaceship, but since the power comes from the people doing so, this is not something useful to anyone other than Karres folk.
While their klatha powers are developing along with their physical bodies, the children of Karres are encouraged to explore other worlds. As they are still children, while they are away from their parents, they are provided with a parent-pattern in their heads to assist them in coping with their growing klatha skills. Goth's parent-pattern is her mother, Toll. As Captain Pausert is Threbus' great-nephew, he also has klatha powers, but since he grew up on Nikkeldepain and knew nothing of such things until he was an adult and met the witches, he has been forced to learn how to deal with his klatha powers on his own.
Goth is fourteen and has been informed by the Karres pre-cogs that this will be a very important year in her life. From her perspective, nothing particularly note-worthy has happened so far in this year. Although she has announced that she intends to marry Captain Pausert, this is on hold at least until she turns the minimum marriageable age of sixteen. Just before they take off on this latest trip aboard the Venture 7333, the Karres pre-cogs find that without some intervention by Goth, there is a 98 percent probability that Pausert will be murdered when he was fourteen. Goth is willing to do anything to prevent that, so she rides the Egger Route back in time to save the fourteen year old Pausert.
Renaming herself as Vala, she spends six months on Nikkeldepain, not only saving Pausert's life but learning a great deal about both the boy he was and herself in the process. Meanwhile Captain Pausert and the Leewit are running into and away from endless pursuit within the Chaladoor. When Goth returns to the ship, the knowledge she gained during her time on Nikkeldepain turns out to be seminal in solving the issues of the day.
This is a wonderful, fun fantasy with all sorts of aliens, space battles, time travel, and even a circus complete with fanderbags (some sort of elephant-like creature). An exceedingly well written, completely engaging sequel, this story also inspires re-reading, or reading for the first time, the original story, and leaves the reader pleading for more about the inhabitant of Karres.