Blood Trillium
Julian May

Cover A book flawed from the outset. Julian obvioulsy didn't read the conclusion to 'Black Trillium' which she co-authored with Andre Norton and Marion Bradley. The sorcerer Orogastus returns in this book having been magically whisked to safety when the Sceptre of Power was turned on him. The 3 princess are said to have assumed he died when he was blasted by the sceptre. However in 'Black Trillium' Orogastus escaped being blasted by the sceptre by leaping of the balcony and going splat on the cobblestones. It was stated quite clearly that he was dead and they looked upon his corpse. This major consistancy flaw is certainly not an auspicious start to the second Trillium book.

Now about this book. 12 years have passed since the first book. Anigel is now the Queen of Laboruwenda (the combined thrones of Labornok and Ruwenda), Kadiya is spokesperson and mediator for the Folk, and Haramis is the new Archimage. Trouble is, of course, brewing. The re-balaning of the world that was supposed to have have happened when the 3 sisters killed Orogastus, didn't happen.

in the interveneing years each sister has grown complacent with their role in the world. And each beleives they are right. Squabbles erupt between them as each tries to do the best for the small minority they represent. Anigel tries to make life better for humans and ignores the needs of the Folk. While Kadiya tries to fight for the rights of the Folk, regardless of the consequences to humans. And Haramis tries to maintain the balance of the world and is regarded as aloof and out of touch since she won't side with any particular group. This discord between them turns the black trilliums in their magical amulets blood red. On top of this Kadiya loses her talisman by dropping it in the sea and Anigel gives hers away in ransom for the return of her husband and King, Antar. Not a pretty picture for the world.

Orogastus obtains both Kadiya's and Anigel's talismans and bonds them to him throrough use of a device of the Star Men (a renegade sect of the Vanished Ones). He is after Haramis' talisman and dominion of all the world.

Haramis finds out she isn't the only Archimage and seeks tutelage from the Archimage of the Sea so she can combat Orogastus. No points for guessing who wins.

Even given the huge flaw the book starts with (ie the principle antagonist is actually dead) this is better than 'Black Trillium'. The writing is much more moderate. People are still occasionly 'smote', but to a much lesser extent.

The greatest improvement is in the use of magic. There are no rules stated, but it's application and effect are much more consistent. It is possible to predict what can and can't happen as Julian adheres to some unwritten rules of magic defined for this world.

Detracting form this improvement in worldbuilding is the devolution of characterisation. Both Kadiya nd Anigel become much less real, more two dimensional. There characters are restricted to certain narrow perspectives. While it is necessary to portray them as being less noble then they were in the first book for the plot to work, Julian has gone overboard and removed their human essence. Even self-obssessed people have more than a single characteristic. And Haramis is, at times, bordering on a Romance cliche.

Some of the other characters are totally inane and virtually cliche, particularly characters like the 'Goblin Kinglet' and the 'Pirate Queen'. They show a certain lack of imagination.

Still, if you've read the first one this is worth reading to see how things developed.