Hippo Manchester
October 27, 2005

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The Singer’s Crown by Elaine Isaak, (EOS, 2005, 480 pages).

***1/2

by Brenda Noiseux

In the realm of fantasy novels, finding an engaging, original story line can be frustrating. My weekly stroll through my local bookstore usually leaves me with little hope for any new reading.

When handed Elaine Isaak’s new novel, The Singer’s Crown, I was skeptical. As I glanced at the book’s back cover, I found something unusual. There, in a brief description, was the blatant admission that the main character is a eunuch prince (he’s castrated at age 7). I admit, I was curious.

In a genre that tends to focus on hyper-masculinity, I wondered how such a character would fare. So I opened the book and read.

The first hundred pages or so were a little slow going, but as I continued, I found myself wanting to read more, wondering what would happen to my characters next. Although the story wasn’t enthralling enough to keep me up at night, I was slowly drawn in by its timing.

Already straying from genre convention with the main character, Isaak keeps the traditional fantasy elements but introduces them at odd times, still fitting them perfectly into the plot without prophecy or foreshadowing overkill.

The other highlight of this book is the ending: the book completes the story. Fantasy novels have started to become unspoken trilogies, always leaving me waiting for another book in a year or two. Isaak has returned the balance by leaving an opening for future adventures with the characters without the unsatisfactory ending.

Granted, the book still has a few fantasy cliché moments, for example the beautiful warrior woman who cannot decide if she wants to give up the sword to marry, but when taken into consideration with the rest of the book, those can be overlooked. All in all, this is a good effort, offering hopes of more unique reading in the future.

The author of The Singer’s Crown, will sign her book at 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Barnes & Noble in Manchester.