Tag Archives: Touchstone theatre group

Review of Window Wall – Book 4 of the Glass Thorns series by Melanie Rawn

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One of the best series I’ve read over the last couple of years is this one – see my review of the first book Glass Thorns here. Will this next slice about the magical theatre company sustain the very high standard Rawn has set so far? windowwallFor nearly two years, Cade has been rejecting his Elsewhens, the Fae gift that grants him prescient glimpses of possible futures, by simply refusing to experience them. But the strain is driving a wedge between him and his theatre troupe, Touchstone, and making him erratic on stage and off. It takes his best friend Mieka to force Cade into accepting the visions again, but when he does, he witnesses a terrible attack, though he cannot see who is responsible. Cade knows the future he sees can be changed, and when he finally discovers the truth behind the attack, he takes the knowledge to the only man in the Kingdom who can prevent it: his deadly enemy.

Once more, Rawn provides an engrossing, grown-up adventure. I love the fact that Cade and Mieka are now no longer the young, driven newbies desperate to prove themselves. Although being established stars provides its own challenges… Rawn gets right inside the skins of her two spiky, complicated characters and if you are looking for a simple escapist tale where everything is cut and dried, then this isn’t it. Unlike many Fantasy stories, Rawn’s world and characters are every bit as nuanced and tricky as our own. While it appears that gnomes, elves, dwarves and humans all get on well, there are strains showing in Albeyn society. Magic is treated with suspicion and prejudice in surrounding states – but with a religious faction gaining favour in the highest echelons of society, there are increasingly those who are turning their back on those who use magic for entertainment, or work, or anything at all… And while trimming elves’ ears at birth is supposedly a thing of the past, it may well be a practice that will be coming back.

Meanwhile Touchstone is poised to become the best theatrical troupe in the country, though that isn’t the end of their problems. As Cade is wrestling with his own magical talents, Touchstone still have issues of their own to sort out – domestic life collides with the demands of touring; the pressure of constantly providing new, exciting plays; betrayal by someone theythought they could trust…

So there is no trace of this series running out of steam – if anything it just goes on getting better. Though whatever you do, don’t pick up Window Wall first. You need to go back to the start to get a real flavour of this original, outstanding series and it would be a crime to do anything else. 10/10

Review of Thornlost – Book 3 of the Glass Thorns series by Melanie Rawn

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This is the third in the series – and no, this isn’t a trilogy, which I didn’t realise when I first started reading it. So is this fairly densely written book worth reading, given that nothing will be fully resolved?

Cayden is part Elf, part Fae, part human Wizard—and all rebel. His aristocratic mother would have him follow his father to the Royal Court, to make a high-society living off the scraps of kings. But Cade lives and breathes for the theatre, and he’s good, very good. He’s a tregetour—a wizard who is both playwright and magicwielder. It is Cade’s power that creates the magic, but a tregetour is useless without a glisker—an elf who can spin out the magic onto the stage, to enchant the audience. And Cade’s glisker, Mieka, is something special too. So is their fettler, Rafe, who controls the magic and keeps them and the audience safe. And their masker, Jeska, who speaks all the lines, is every young girl’s dream. They are reaching for the highest reaches of society and power, but not the way Cade’s mother thinks they should. They’ll change their world, or die trying.

The blurb gives you a slice of the very well-depicted world. This series is described as high fantasy in all the publicity material – and if thornlostyou want battles, enraged dragons, blood and gore, then give this series a miss because it offers something different. Though if you haven’t read Glass Thorns, which I’ve reviewed here and Elsewhens – see my review here – then put Thornlost on one side and read those first. There are some series where you can pick up what is going on without losing too much – this isn’t one of them. No doubt you’d be able to make sense of what is happening, but the world-building and character progression is so layered and detailed, I think you’d lose far too much if you jumped in with this, the third book.

It follows the fortunes of a magical theatre group striving to get to the top of their profession. Cade, one of the main protagonists, is also dogged by glimpses of the possible futures, many of whom predict they will burn out and Mieka, his closest friend, will die overdosing on thorn and drink. Like many modern pop groups, when the going gets tough, they all rely on drink and stimulants to get them through a performance – or help them unwind when adrenaline-fuelled after the show. Touchstone, their theatre group, is now well established and they are all famous. They have also drawn down some unwelcome attention – Cade, in particular, is very wary of other people outside a small circle of trusted friends knowing about his ability to see slices of the possible future, which leave him shaken and undermined. But there are others who have become aware of his abilities and are waiting to scoop him up and use him for their own ends…

The story arc doesn’t take a great leap forward and while I love those stories which whisk you up into action-packed adventure that leaves you wanting to draw breath by the time you put them down – a book that gives you such a wealth of detail and layered experience of the characters that I’ve actually dreamt about this world provides a special joy. I always feel a stab of sorrow when I finish one of these books – it is different to anything else I’ve recently read and I’m looking forward to the next one.
10/10