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This is a review I wrote quite a while back for A Sorcerer’s Treason, the first book in the Isavalta Trilogy by Sarah Zettel, and labels it as ‘readable, enjoyable, run-of-the-mill Fantasy’ – if this sounds like your kind of thing then you’re well served with this series indeed.

Bridget Lederle is the keeper of a 19th century Lighthouse on Sands Island in Lake Superior. When she rescues a strangely dressed and tattooed man whose ship is driven onto the rocks of Sands Island (a bit of a misnomer, this) she learns that, apparently, she is being called to another country, a parallel world, to the court of Isavalta, where she is a powerful sorceress.
Kalani, the man rescued, is the Lord Sorcerer at the Isavaltan court, serving the Empress Dowager Medeoan, a sorceress in her own right (sorcerers are like buses…), who has caged the terrible Firebird (read: Phenix), who was sent by the 9 Elders of Hung-Tse to devastate Isavalta.
Ananda, a princess of Hastinapura, is the current Empress of Isavalta. She is married to Medeoan’s son Mikkel, who has been senseless since their wedding night. Given that she is known to be a sorceress, too (she is not – it’s all spin) the reason for this is solidly lain at her feet. Her Lord Sorcerer, Sakra, has been expelled from the court, like all other sorcerers (with a few exceptions, see above).

How’s this for a setup? Political intrigue, magic of all kinds (spells have to be woven in this world), and no real swordplay etc make this a run-of-the-mill fantasy approach. The world we know, and Isavalta, lie in parallel, separated by ‘The Land of Death and Spirit’. There are hints of more world/spheres/lands (delete as appropriate). In Isavalta (and, apparently, in our world too), some dead stay around as ghosts, and talk to the living when they visit them. There are also some ‘Great Powers’ or Spirits, including the Vixen (Queen of the Fox spirits), Baba Yaga, etc (guess where the inspiration for inhabitants, powers, and names comes from!).

Before writing this book, Sarah Zettel was known (and liked) as an SF author. With the Isavalta Trilogy (and subsequent books in the same universe) she branched out, into very standard but well written Fantasy. Currently she’s writing what can only be described as ‘Romantic Fantasy’  - Mills & Boons meets Arthurian Chivalry – in the Camelot Series.
The story line across the trilogy – careful, minor spoiler! Look away now! – is unusual, as the 2nd book jumps back in time, and tells the story of how Bridget’s mother got involved with Isavalta, and how the current set-up Bridget walks into came to be. The 3rd book, The Firebirds’ Revenge, then takes up the story from this book, and brings the story arc to a conclusion; although Zettel now writes other books in this universe.
This is a readable, enjoyable, if run-of-the-mill Fantasy book with next to none marshal parts (appreciated here). As long as you don’t have an allergy to such books I can whole-heartedly recommend it (and the rest of the trilogy) as a quick but entertaining read.

More Sarah Zettel

Title: A Sorcerer’s Treason
Series: Isavalta
Series Number: 1
Author: Sarah Zettel
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL:
Publisher:  Voyager
Publisher URL:
Publication Date: 2002
Review Date: 19 July 2007
ISBN: 0007114001
Price: UKP 6.99
Pages: 595
Format: Paperback
Topic: Fantasy
Topic: Parallel worlds


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