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The Ninth Talisman: Volume Two of The Annals of the Chosen by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Review by Willaim Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0765310279
Date: 15 May 2007 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The Wizard Lord must be prevented from inappropriately using magic to harm people. The Chosen are the best in the world at their special skill. The Chosen are the swordsman, the leader, the seer, the beauty, the thief, the scholar, the archer, and the speaker. Each Chosen carries a talisman that is linked to the Wizard Lord. If a chosen dies, the abilities linked to that chosen are lost to the Wizard Lord until a replacement is found.

The new Wizard Lord is changing the world. Is this a bad thing? The Chosen will meet to decide this. The complication is that on the face of things, nothing the Wizard Lord has done is outside of the restrictions placed against him. New roads have been constructed that have opened up travel and trade. People are happy.

Spoiler alert: Each time a Wizard Lord has to be removed a new member of the Chosen is added. This is the pattern, but the new member has not been introduced to the new leader. During the course of the story you find out why. The title refers to the unknown talisman of the new Chosen. As the Chosen talk with the new Wizard Lord, they find out that he wants to remove the need for a Wizard Lord and by extension the Chosen. He wants to bring a more feudal system to Barokan, where martial strength and not magic determines who rules. With very few wizards left, the time seems to be coming fast. End Spoiler

This is the second book in the Annals of the Chosen series. It could be read as a stand alone, although reading the first book The Wizard Lord definitely helps in following the systems that have developed in Barokan Society. The eventual third book will not be a stand alone as it will be a direct continuation of this book.

There is an interesting premise in this story. Wizards control their actions by putting a Wizard Lord in place, thus limiting their power. To prevent the Wizard Lord form going out of control, they create the Chosen. There is magic, mayhem, and an interesting world developed. I will be interested to see how the world continues to change as the isolated villages become less isolated. I wonder if the current happiness will remain as the world becomes more tightly bound and old traditions are snuffed out.

If you like swords, sorcery, and interplay between characters, this is the book for you. When the very talented are brought together, interesting patterns form. I especially enjoyed the plotline that dealt with how the current Wizard Lord tries to defend himself from the skills of the chosen. I flew threw my copy in a short period of time. The rush towards confrontation was exhilarating. I look forward to the third installment. If the author decides to continue the story past the third installment, it will be interesting to see how he continues a system that may no longer be workable with out a key ingredient. There is a nice system in place for replacing characters, but are there going to be enough Wizards left to keep the system going.

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