I was spellbound. Perhaps it was because Black and Red is peopled with sorcerers and successes, but I think it was the writing. The narrator seemed to be speaking in a soft, slow voice, weaving an account of Kalan and the prison in which she had lived for three hundred years.. I was pulled into the story and I followed it to the end.
Kalan is a great sorceress, as her father was a great sorcerer. Her blood-red hair testifies that her mother had died in childbirth and she was marked as a devil-child for life. Her father’s only child – powerful sorcerers typically have but a single child – she had studied with her father and, if it were possible, was more powerful than he.
Another sorcerer, jealous of her father’s power, persuaded the king that he was a threat, and the king approved his murder. When Kalan arrived at the castle to exact vengeance for his death, five of the greatest sorcerers of the land trapped her with a binding spell too powerful for her to break, and locked her away for eternity. Two of those powerful sorcerers acted under duress, and one of them inserted a “loop,” a way out, into the spell. After three hundred years, the loop is used, and Kalan finds that she is free. She sets out to wreak havoc on the descendants of those who wronged her.
Terentya, “Ter,” is marked with the same red hair as is Kalan, and her eyes burn red, too. Her mother was killed just before her birth, and Ter’s foster mother pulled her from her dead mother’s womb. Her foster parents belonged to a band of mercenaries, who fought for the highest bidder, and Ter has grown into a warrior, young woman who is a force to be reckoned with in a fight.
Ter is descended from one of the sorcerers who sealed Kalan in her prison. When Kalan returns, Ter is summoned to help repeat the spell.
As I read, I felt Kalan’s agony at her imprisonment. I abhorred her intent to kill innocent people in her quest for revenge. I rooted for Ter to find the happiness that had eluded her in life.
The story line is fascinating. The action scenes are some of the best that I have read. While the manuscript would benefit from an editor, the story is so good, that only those who are obsessive about minor problems will be distracted. Black and Red is well worth the read!
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)