Glass Thorns - Touchstone by Melanie Rawn

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Glass Thorns - Touchstone by Melanie Rawn

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: First in a rollicking fantasy series featuring a wonderfully constructed world in which tantalising information is released morsel by tasty morsel. Love it!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: December 2012
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781166604

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Cayden is a hybrid being - part elf, fae and human but all wizard. He also has a day job as a tregetour or playwright with his own touring company, Touchstone. They're ambitious and planning to get through the trials and into the upper flight. As you would expect from a wizard, this troupe doesn't just act; they also weave magic imbued in hallucinations and encased in glass withies. The problem is they're short of a glister, a troupe's wielder of withies. Or rather they were until Mieka arrives. Actually short's a good world as he's an elf but he also happens to be the best glister anyone's ever seen, thorns permitting. With one problem solved, another remains. Namely prophetic dreams that have haunted Cade since boyhood and they aren't improving, in fact they're more like nightmares.

Melanie Rawn has fantasy pedigree as the award winning author of the Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies rated by none other than legend Anne McCaffrey. And it seems that producing a new series hasn't caused Ms Rawn to drop her standards at all. Whilst on the subject of series, it's important to remember that this story is here for the long haul so it doesn't need to be in a hurry, it just needs to hold us… and it does. The baddies don't reveal themselves till towards the end, but the players have plenty to absorb them (and us) along the way.

To begin with this is a rich, complete world. It seems inspired by Shakespearian England with players and patrons and an equally rich use of language (including the odd profanity in context) but there are some interesting differences. Alcohol has a companion drug of choice. The glass thorns of the title are dipped in colourful narcotics providing bluethorns or greenthorns etc which are scratched onto the user's skin. Their use is accepted; however their effects can be socially disabling. It's a place where women are side-lined, as they may have been in our real world but then so are elves. In fact discrimination against elves is so great that parents order a form of plastic surgery in order to hide their offspring's elven features. The one feature that Touchstone wouldn't be the same without though are the withies, specially crafted glass tubes filled with magic by people like Cade, ensuring that the play comes to life and ensuring that a team of four players can produce a spectacle to make the toughest crowd marvel. Speaking of the players…

These characters will grow on you. In the first few chapters I was wondering if they were perhaps a little flat then by the end we were firm friends, again proving the 'don't rush' principle. Their names alone melifluate off the tongue: Mieka Windthistle, apparent clown but becoming so much more; Cayden Silversun, bowed down by the responsibility for the troupe and for what he sees ahead; Jeska the flirty one and Rafe, the fettler whose job is to distribute emotions among the audience. Then there's Blye, the maker of withies and the girl who's one of the lads. Maybe she'll become a love interest or maybe she'll become disposable? No, I refuse to think about that.

There are backstory fill-ins of war and division as well as future promises of both inner and external demons to be vanquished. Yes, indeed, I've found another series to rave about so roll on February 2013 and Book 2 Elsewhens, named after Cayden's bouts of 'sight'. Poor bloke; it doesn't sound too hopeful for him does it?

If you've enjoyed this then you'll also luxuriate in Michael J Sullivan's Riyria Revelations.

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

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


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