The Lady of the Sorrows
N this second book of the Bitterbynde trilogy (after 2001's The Ill-Made Mute), Dart-Thornton clarifies a number of the first volume's mysteries and with a defter hand sets the story moving briskly through the medieval-like landscape of Erith. Imrhien has been cured of her muteness and her facial disfigurement, but she hasn't yet overcome the amnesia that also plagued her in book one. Deciding she must tell the King-Emperor of Erith about the treasure she has found, Imrhien makes her way to court and by sheer good luck though her restored beauty is also a big help catches the ear of a faithful minister of the king who believes her story about hidden riches. After a period of indulging in court life, Imrhien feels the pull to once again travel and try to discover why she can't remember her past. A series of adventures leads to revelations about part of Imrhien's past and yet these same revelations also point to more paradoxes, setting the stage for the final volume. Often second books in fantasy trilogies just trudge along. In this case, the author has peppered the plot with folklore and tall tales that lend plenty of interest, even if they have little to do with the immediate quest. Hopefully, Dart-Thornton will pattern the concluding volume in the series on the second and not the first. While the jacket art depicting courtiers against a castle backdrop will help to draw historical romance readers, it gives no hint that the novel is full of mythical creatures and fair folk sure to appeal to fantasy fans.