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The Spellsong War
by L E Modesitt, Jr

classifications: Fantasy / Heroic / Dramatic

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As is the case with sequels, much of what was said about The Soprano Sorceress applies equally to The Spellsong War. Anna continues her remaking of Erder society, explaing, or forcing, the concept of equality of women upon the reluctant feudal lords.

I do not wish to suggest these books are rampant propoganda for feminists eveywhere. They are, in fact, remarkably well balanced, the result of several decades worth of back and forth arguments, resulting in an agreement that everyone can be just as good as anyone else, if only people will let them - and if they are willing to pay the price. Doing what has to be done, despite the price you pay, is the major theme of thsi second book. Having almost accidentally ended up nominal ruler of Defalk, a small, disunited country surrounded by hostile (or at best, ambivalent) nations, Anna is left with no choice but to defend and strengthen her position. Unfortunately, this means war.

The result is much more anguish and difficult moral decisions for the heroine - whether it is nobler to give in and go home, or to fry entire battalions of soldiers in the name of progress and equality. Though the decision is somewhat foreordained (the book would be rather short and uneventful were Anna to choose the former), the resulting difficulties ensure that your attention is always retained. Again, perhaps Anna seems a little too glib at dismissing such awkward questions at times, but for the most part, the anger and self-loathing resulting from actions she had no choice but to take adds an interesting depth to her.

While marginally less enthralling than the initial installment the second volume of this series is just as readable and recommended as the first, and sets the scene for much yet to come.

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