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Morrigan's Cross by Nora  Roberts
Review by Mel Jacob
Jove Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0515141658
Date: 29 August, 2006 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Hoyt McKenna, a powerful 12th century sorcerer descended from the goddess Morrigan, calls on his powers to find and slay Lilith, Queen of the Vampires, who made Hoyt's twin brother Cian a vampire. He brands and wounds Lilith, but fails to kill her. Then, his brash twin attacks Hoyt who strives only to free him from the vampire's curse. Instead, Cian falls into the sea and Hoyt believes he has killed him. Badly injured, Hoyt crawls away to recover.

The goddess Morrigan tells Hoyt he must gather a witch, a warrior, a scholar, one of many forms, and one he'd lost to form a circle of six to stand against Lilith, who with her minions now seeks dominion over all the worlds. He must gather and train his army in the next three months. They are to travel by Samhain through time and space to the Valley of Silence on the world Geall, home to Moira, scholar and aspiring queen, to defeat evil and save all worlds. To preserve his family in his absence, Morrigan gives him seven blessed silver crosses.

Roberts spin a tale of unlikely allies learning to hone their abilities, acquire new skills, to trust one another against all logic, and form a team to save worlds unaware of the danger ahead. Lilith and her vampire servants launch periodic attacks and try to lure the one vampire on Hoyt's team to change sides.

Conflict abounds. Hoyt and the vampire, his brother Cian, have unsettled grudges, and Cian's remarks about the beautiful witch Glenna spur Hoyt's anger and jealousy. The warrior, a demon hunter/vampire killer, distrusts Cian's motives, while Moira resents him because she witnessed vampires tear her mother apart. Her cousin Larkin's shape shifting disconcerts others. Independent and used to making her own decisions, Glenna rebels against macho Hoyt who believes in the old male/female roles. His attempts to protect her cause constant arguments.

Dedicated folklorists may find Roberts' depiction of Morrigan offensive. She assigns the traditional symbol of the Crow Goddess, the crow/raven, to Lilith. Others will quibble with Morrigan using Christian crosses and Roberts associating her with light and the powers of good, but, despite ignoring accepted lore, Roberts melds her characters into a compelling romantic fantasy. Sophisticated fantasy fans may find the trilogy tame, but Roberts fans will love it; the love between the witch Glenna and Hoyt occupies a major part of the book.

While the novel ends with a messy battle, it is merely a step along the way to the ultimate battle. The second volume, The Dance of the Gods will appear in October followed by in the third volume, The Valley of Silence, scheduled for a November release to commemorate Samhain. It appears subsequent volumes may feature other romantic pairings among the team as the struggle against Lilith continues.

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