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Dreams of the Compass Rose by Vera Nazarian
Review by Colleen Cahill
Wildside Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 1587155842
Date: May, 2002 List Price $39.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The fourteen stories in this volume begin with a grandmother telling tales of Amarantea, of the beast with no name who can only be seen when he sleeps, and of the king who marries the woman with no eyes. These inspire her granddaughter to find this ?place between worlds? and after devoting her youth to this, sail with a mad Captain to the ruins on an island. Here she must choose between opening a coffin inscribed with the ?words of the greatest Truth? or returning to her home, to take up life and all the joys of family. As you can tell from just this bit, these are tales of desire and choice, of paths taken and passed by, of illusion and truth. They are interwoven with characters moving from being a minor player in one tale to becoming the center of another. The world of the Compass Rose is desert, mountains and plains, with beautiful cities or grand oasis towns, all a mix in a place like the Silk Road and with all the kinds of exotic peoples you would expect ... and a few you would not. A small, angry boy can hold a great and faithful warrior and his sister can be a well of water, or truth could be in the form of a serving woman. The Gods of this world are as complex as the people, from the grandmotherly Ris, Bringer of Water, to the Dark Lord Illusions, to the ?sarcastic puny god? Pokreh, who gifted men with fleas.

Nazarian has given us a truly delightful set of jewels: from the Shimmering Scythe, where Death chases a thief who has stolen her blade, to an assassin who strives to kill a king whose madness reshapes his city as he slumbers in The City of No-Sleep. The author?s use of language only enhances the feeling of these being magical legends, encompassing the good and evil such stories hold. All this is done with a few strokes of her pen, for Nazarian can paint a scene gem bright and show what is the heart of a character with just a few words. The marvel of the Arabian nights tales, the magic of myths and a richness of orient all shine from these pages, but these are ultimately stories of people, ones who follow their compass to hopefully find their dream, but more importantly, to discover the truth.

Dreams, paths and truth: these are the heart of Dreams Of The Compass Rose. The stories are for anyone in search of these things, but also for those who want a complex reading experience that will leave them not only with wonderment to explore, but ideas to contemplate.

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