A Forthcoming Wizard
by Jody Lynn Nye
Review by Carolyn Frank
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765314345
Date: 14 April 2009 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Tildi Summerbee is one of the smallfolk, a member of a created race of half-size humanoids. In this fantasy trek to replace a magical book in the safeguarded vault from whence it was stolen, Tildi makes her own journey from wizard apprentice to A Forthcoming Wizard. This is the second part of the tale begun in An Unexpected Apprentice, and if the reader has not read the first part, this book only provides a scattering of background. But if the reader accepts the basic foundations of a fantasy trek: a diverse group of companions; limitations on the magic that can be performed at any given point; ongoing movement through the standard farmland, forests, rivers, mountains, ocean; and a steadily increasing set of battles with stronger and stronger magical beings along the way; this book is an entertaining diversion.
Presumably due to the female author, Tildi's companions are primarily female: a young wizardess, Serafina; a middle-age dwarf trader, Lakanta; a princess centaur, Rin; an abbess-knight, Sharhava; her niece and a future queen, Imbecca; and Captain Teryn, the leader of the human troop providing non-magical protection during the journey. However they can can fight both magically and non-magically as well as their male counterparts, and being female, spend their non-fighting time in conversations about relationships, in learning more about magic and themselves, and in telling and listening to historical tales and romantic ballads.
The magic book, the Compendium, is a scroll book that the Makers created that includes the runes, or names written in a runic alphabet, describing each being and element in this world. If the rune is changed by magic, the being is changed. If the part of the rune that enables sight is deleted, the being can no longer see. Runes are generally invisible, but everything in proximity to the Compendium has its rune in view if one is capable of reading magical writing. Runes change naturally as beings and elements change, but a wizard can rewrite the rune to an earlier version, thus erasing the signs of passage along a dirt road or bringing an injured person back to the earlier healthy version.
The problem is that one of the Makers had gotten a wizard to wrest the Compendium from its vault and wanted to use it to rewrite the world from his depressed point of view. The group of companions having stopped the wizard in the first book, Tildi finds she is the only one who can even touch the Compendium without being burned. So she is taking it back to her Master, who will know what is to be done with it. If you enjoyed hobbits and their stories, but you wondered if there could be a female perspective of such tales, you will definitely enjoy this book.