By Melanie Rawn
Tor Forge, 368 pages, $25.95
Fantasy and the Theater
Melanie Rawn’s Touchstone shows her continuing status as a major figure of contemporary fantasy. This book tells the story of a band of traveling players, known as Touchstone, as they try to overcome both the difficulties of becoming successful in the cutthroat world of the theater, but also their own personal hurdles. Cayden, the major narrator is trying to deal with his aristocratic mother’s disappointment in his humble profession and ambitions that are different from her own. Mieka, the secondary narrator, is striving to create a place for himself within his own overwhelmingly large family, as well as find an outlet for his sometimes dangerous and reckless talent. The story is briskly paced and engaging, and the reader is immersed in the story of Cayden and Mieka, as well as a richly formed cast of supporting characters. The end of the book works into an obvious setup for the second book of the trilogy, but not to such an extent the story in the present volume is left unfinished. Rawn is also not an author that spends a lot of time explaining the worlds she has created, so readers who are unfamiliar with fantasy may feel slightly out of their league. Ultimately, this is contemporary fantasy that references multiple real-world issues without being too didactic.
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