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Armed & Magical (Raine Benares, Book 2) by Lisa Shearin
Cover Artist: Aleta Rafton
Review by Beth Slater
Ace Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441015870
Date: 29 April 2008 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Elves to the left of her, goblins to the right ... and all Raine wants is OUT! After trying to help her friend she wound up with this magic stone, the Saghred -- otherwise known as the Soul Stealer -- and next thing she knew it liked her! Now she was stuck with it, and everyone wanted a piece of her -- well, the stone, really, they didn't really want her. But since it hadn't driven her insane, as it was known to do with anyone else who had touched it, a lot of questions were being tossed around. But since her mild Seeker skills had increased exponentially, not too many of those questions were being asked to her face.

For now Raine and her friends have taken amnesty on the Isle of Mid with the Guardians. (Raine's father, the former custodian of the Saghred, was a Guardian.) They are hoping that the stone may be contained there at the sorcery school. The spell shields help contain the stone while it is dormant, but soon trouble finds its way to the island and Raine and her friends are at the eye of the storm.

Unfortunately, the Isle of Mid is also home to the Conclave, the sorcerers' governing body. It is clear that many of the sorcerers want the Saghred for their own. The power it holds draws the greed of many, but Raine is not one of the many. She stumbled upon these changes and simply wants her life back, but is slowly realizing that nothing will ever be the same again. What will never change is how important her friends and family are to her. But having this much power to control is teaching her to limit her trust in others more quickly than usual.

When the school's best spell-singer students begin to disappear -- and Raine is afraid her adopted brother Piaris is next -- Raine decides that she must use the power she has despite the danger of the Saghred gaining strength over her -- and her losing control.

I wasn't sure how well I liked this series, even though I read straight through the first book and picked up the second and did the same. It is an unusual science-fantasy series, not like one I've read before. Yes, the magic rock, the increased powers, etc. But there is still something different that I haven't been able to pinpoint, and I still cannot say positive or negative. I'll have to say I like it because I am looking forward to the next one to see what happens. Intriguing. Not gory or anything, and not a lot of mushy sex or anything -- some romance, but nothing explicit. Teasing, maybe. But interesting. I guess I'll just have to wait.

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