Book Review: A Glimmer of Guile by: Mary Patterson Thornburg

Rating: 4/5

Publisher: Uncial Press

Publication Date: April 18, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Book Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Vivia has guile. Using only the power of her mind, she can make water boil, heal the sick, create illusions, and even transform herself into a bird or a pirate. But guilish folk are considered witches by most people, and that frightens them. Her first teacher taught her healing arts, and after that she studied with Taso Raym, the most powerful male witch in the land. He taught her many things, and not just guilish skills. Unfortunately, neither Vivia nor Raym could ignore their attraction to each other, and intimacy between them would have meant the end of her guile. So she joined Ladygate, an all-female community, and accepted that love was not for her. After a while, though, she realizes Ladygate is not where she belongs either. So she accepts the task of investigating the disappearance of a lord's son, kidnapped, it seems, by the malevolent witch Orath. Her guilish training is not quite complete, and she hopes Raym can help her. But Raym has also disappeared. Vivia is on her own, with a task to do-one that now touches her heart. She's almost sure she has the necessary strength and skill... ...Unless Raym and Orath are in league with each other. Meeting challenges head on, Vivia learns from her mistakes. Her guile grows with each success, as she follows a convoluted, hazy trail to the sea and, beyond, to the lair of Orath and her tyrannical consort, the Red Prince. There she finds Raym, captive and enthralled by a guile stronger and more deadly than she ever imagined. Planning carefully, she prepares herself for a confrontation she must believe she will win...

Review: Vivia has powerful guile, which is why she was sent away by her father when she was young. Her first mentor taught her all she could about healing and guilish ways, but her mentor was not as powerful in the guile as Vivia. When her mentor passed on, she was sent to learn from Taso Raym. Raym is the most powerful man with guile ever known. Learning much from Raym, Vivia grows attracted to him but because if a guilish female loses her virginity she loses her guile they must go their separate ways. Vivia goes to live in the all-female guile community of Ladygate, led by Mother Harken. Vivia knows she doesn’t fit in at Ladygate, so it’s almost a relief when Harken sends her out to investigate the mysterious departure of a lord’s son. However, Vivia quickly finds out this quest is filled with more lies and treachery than she ever thought possible. Now having to face the evil witch Orath and her consort, the Red Prince, Vivia is going to need all of her guile and allies.

A GLIMMER OF GUILE is a spell-binding novel of magic, mayhem, and maturation. Vivia’s definitely more comfortable being a loner, but over time it was good to see her understand the value of friends and allies. The world- and character-building was fantastically detailed with a rich magical system. I liked Vivia a lot and it was really her interaction with secondary characters which helped develop her own character. A GLIMMER OF GUILE is definitely a complete story, but I wouldn’t mind reading more stories set in this world. The action scenes were artfully written and the whole book never felt like it was dragging. A GLIMMER OF GUILE is a must read for lovers of magical stories!

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