Glass Thorns - Thornlost by Melanie Rawn

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Glass Thorns - Thornlost by Melanie Rawn

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The third of the epic high fantasy Glass Thorns series may not be the best, but it's still not half bad. We fans are thrilled to have the Shakespearianesque Touchstone Players back with their problems, penchant for dire danger and, now, they have a tour bus too!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: April 2014
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781166642

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The Touchstone Players are back and now mostly married but the show must go on. Talking of which, it's their playwright Cayden's 21st naming day. He's come of age but his aristocratic mother would still rather he went to court as a courtier than the entertainer that his wizard/elven/fae heritage equips him for. However Cade has other concerns. He, the dwarf glister, Mieka who wields Cade's magic, Rafe (who manipulates it) and Jeska the masker (who can literally become anyone) are no longer the court favourites. Also, you remember the danger that Cade foresaw for Mieka from Mieka's wife in his elsewhen premonitions? Well, there's more! (There follows some spoilers for the previous novels so read them first before reading on.)

Melanie Rawn delights us once again with the clashes, arguments and camaraderie that is the Touchstone Players in this, the third of the Glass Thorn series. (The thorns are of course the media through which their drugs of choice are injected, so perhaps not one for the kiddies!) This time it seems to be even more about the relationship between Cade and Mieka, leaving the other chaps as bit players.

The lads are all that bit older and, apart from Cayden, married. Cade has too many issues to want to settle down, the chief one being his unexpected, all-encompassing visions of possible futures, the elsewhens. (That and our hopes of him marrying Blye the glass blower were quashed last book when she married Mieka's brother!)

Cade is maturing though and cares about his colleagues more than perhaps any of them realise, especially the aforementioned, oft drunk, Mieka. Indeed Mieka's marriage is not only dangerously unhappy, for me it triggers the reason why this novel is not the best of the previously exemplary bunch.

Remember Cade's horrific elsewhens surrounding the way that Mieka's spell-weaving wife and equally adept ma-in-law manipulated Mieka? The way that Melanie introduced them and Cade's reaction to them in the last two novels provided some nail-biting fear and trepidation about what was to come. Well, here in Book 3 the women actually carry out something equally dangerous and threatening to all the players, not just the dwarf. Cade discerns it fully and his reaction? He doesn't warn, tell or even seem to fret. He merely mitigates the effects on him alone. I can normally overlook inconsistencies, in fact I'm famed for it, but I don't understand this one. (It may just be me!) Anyway, on to the good stuff…

As usual Melanie has woven some topical subtexts into her almost historical fantasy setting. Racism from mild mumbling to full on xenophobia and equality of the sexes loom large, the latter being a continuation of Blye's story last time out. We also learn about the history of the Caitiffs, a dubious race a lot closer to our heroes than they realise.

When it comes to the stories we're told about Cade's fascinating ancestors in between the action this time could it be the sign of a spin off prequel in the offing? I hope so!

Misgivings aside, Melanie still provides the fun and thought provocation that keeps us turning the pages while hoping that there will be a Book 4. All that and the lads get a rather cool tour bus… errr… coach/wagon/thing that has secrets all of its own.

A thank you, as always, goes to Titan for providing us with a copy for review.

Further Reading: If you've enjoyed this, how about Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Gardner Dozois (Editor), Jack Dann (Editor) a delicious selection box featuring the work of the best fantasy writers around today?

Buy Glass Thorns - Thornlost by Melanie Rawn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Glass Thorns - Thornlost by Melanie Rawn at

Buy Glass Thorns - Thornlost by Melanie Rawn at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Glass Thorns - Thornlost by Melanie Rawn at


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