Broken Vows by Cory Daniells
(Bantam, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-553-58097-3
***
Australian author Cory Daniells starts out a fantasy trilogy with Broken Vows. Imoshen, royal princess and one of the ruling clan called T'En, has seen her Fair Isle home invaded by soldiers under the order of General Tulkhan. Imoshen's height, her light complexion, and the six fingers on her hands all reveal her to be a Throwback to the first T'En, a warrior princess named T'Imoshen (and her namesake). In addition, Imoshen is a healer and has magic powers that she does not fully comprehend or control. All she knows is that her family is dead and she is now in the hands of her captor.

Tulkhan is a giant of a man. The antithesis of Imoshen, he's dark-haired, copper-skinned, and rigidly controlled. The last thing he really needs is a captive like Imoshen, one whose powers may be used against him and his men. But her fearlessness impresses him, even as their cultural upbringings clash.

Imoshen has heard of the barbaric customs of Tulkhan's people, such as polygamy, which makes women virtual slaves. Her people believe in equal partners and her society is one of rule by respect. Tulkhan is from a warrior culture, one that rules by domination. Soon Imoshen and Tulkhan will have to learn to mesh their ideologies as they face danger and duplicity from unexpected sources. Their survival will depend on it.

"The Healer and The Warrior" is not a new theme in fantasy romance. This book is very plot-driven, with the action moving from place to place and secondary characters providing much of the driving force. Yet the author has done a fine job of using the internal conflict between the two characters as a catalyst for change in them both. For these two to find love, they will both need to understand the other's strengths and weaknesses, and learn to see in shades of gray rather than black and white. Imogen will need to see Tulkhan as something other than a barbarian, and Tulkhan, for his part, will need to discard his vision of Imogen as a vengeful White Witch of sorts.

The plot, while intricate, is engrossing and easy to follow. I was caught up in the travels and adventures of these two, and was quite comfortably carried along with them

Gee, sounds like this book was quite a good read. So why the three-heart rating? Well, there is one BIG caveat, and with our readers in mind, it influenced this rating.

There is not a true Happy Ever After at the end of this book. The story of Tulkhan and Imogen will continue in the next book of the trilogy, which is not due out until the fall of 2000. I'm assuming it will take three books and several years of patience on the part of the reader to finish the story of Tulkhan and Imogen. That's fine if you are willing to pick up and put down books with more than a year's pause between them, but I suspect that many readers will not have the patience (or the memory) to want to do that. I know I don't. When the second book, Dark Dreams, comes along I'll have to re-read Broken Vows to catch the thread again.

However, for readers who enjoy fantasy romance and have a holding space on their bookshelf, Broken Vows has much to offer.

--Cathy Sova


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