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Stewart, Sean
Toronto, Maxwell Macmillan Canada, 1993.
233pp, paper, ISBN 0-02-954181-6 (paper)
$10.95, ISBN 0-02-954160-3 (cloth) $15.95. CIP

Subject Headings:
Fantasy fiction.


Reviewed by Alison Mews

Volume 22 Number 1
1994 January / February

In this fantasy novel, the reader observes Shielder's Mark become a hero at the book's beginning as he succeeds where men of noble birth have failed--in breaking the Ghostwood's spell. When he arrives at the palace jubilant but weary, he encounters disbelief, scorn and reluctant acknowled gement of his deed; but when he claims the princess as his due, his audacity provokes a veiled hostility from the nobility present.

Unlike most fantasies, in which the completed guest signifies the fulfilment of the story, this novel explores the events and forces unleashed by the undoing of the curse. As the novel unfolds, it becomes apparent that breaking the curse has unravelled the yarn in the fabric of magic, and the evil contained in the Ghostwood now seeps into the countryside.

Because he uses a young man from the village for his hero, Stewart allows the reader to identify with the protagonist as he battles court intrigue and the shadow of his own past in his attempt to claim his rightful place in the world. But Mark's earthy language and humour help him to maintain his perspective, and serve as an effective backdrop while he endeavours to earn the respect of his fellow courtiers and the heart of his fiercely independent bride.

In a satisfying conclusion, Shielder's Mark fulfils his destiny as vanquisher and the princess chooses to give him her heart.

Recommended for collections serving adults.

Alison Mews is Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services, Faculty of Education, at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, Newfoundland

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