Forgotten Truth, by Dawn Cook (Ace, 2003)

After several adventures, Alissa has finally discovered her true heritage and power. As one of the legendary Masters of the Hold, she can transform into a dragon like raku, and has great untapped magical potential which she’s slowly exploring with the help of the Hold’s last surviving teacher, Talo-Toecan. The only other inhabitants of the hold, the minstrel Strell and the ghostly Lodesh, vie for her affections, and deep in Alissa’s mind, the feral nature of the raku still dwells, threatening to take over the body if she allows it. This is all much more than she ever expected of her life growing up, and it’s only heating up. True, she’s mastering her abilities. True, the evil usurper who used to dwell in the Hold is gone. True, she loves Strell. But Alissa’s about to learn a whole new host of secrets, when a spell gone wrong catapults her back in time hundreds of years, to a point when the Hold was in full bloom, full of Masters, students, and some very familiar — if much younger — faces.

Now Alissa is trapped centuries before she was born, at risk of altering the future. Worse still, her feral self is growing ever stronger, and if she can’t make it home, she may lose her rational self, forever. On the bright side, she’s in a position to learn about some very valuable aspects of her magical potential…. and some of the darkest secrets of the Masters. For what has been lost in the present remains all too clear in the past, and the subtle differences between Master, Keeper, normal person, and cursed prophet are very subtle indeed.

The first two books in this series, First Truth and Hidden Truth introduced us to a fascinating new setting, albeit a deserted, claustrophobic one with a lot of history behind it. In Forgotten Truth, we finally get to see the setting when it was at the height of its power, before certain troubles and catastrophes occurred. It’s like opening the shades on a very large window; with the right source of light, that claustrophobic room suddenly becomes ten times the size. The cast, too, is expanded dramatically, filling in some back story and adding new dimensions to what we already knew, about characters long-dead or missing, and about characters who’ve already had their time on stage. It was perhaps the best thing Cook could have done at this stage in the series, to expand the setting as she did, without dramatically altering the characters involved. She’s got a great series on her hands, and I’m interested in seeing where she plans to take it, now that we’ve learned what we have about character origins, and the like.

I’m really enjoying the Truth series; it’s a new twist on some old concepts, and it works.

Originally reviewed for SF Site, 2004

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