By Maria V. Snyder
Published 2009, MIRA Books
Paperback, 488 pages
As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it's time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan's glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal's unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap in to a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she hadn't known she possessed…powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she's ever known.It's been awhile since I read Maria V. Snyder's first trilogy, but this book follows right on its heels, explaining how Opal Cowen connects to Yelena, while leading into Opal's life of glass-making. The whole process is intricately described throughout the book, but without burdening the plot with too much detail.
Despite the part that Opal played and her great contribution to Sitia, she does not consider her magical abilities to be anything worth boasting about and struggles with low self-esteem for most of the book. All the while, her abilities grow and blossom in the face of suspense and danger. Her specific talents keep her busy solving one magical dilemma after another, introducing her to new characters along the way, as well as bringing in familiar faces - some welcome and some not.
The romantic aspects to the book involve her being torn between two men, Kale of the Stormdance clan, and Ulrick, a fellow glass-maker. While Opal shares qualities with both young men, I prefer her chemistry with the moody, quiet Kale over the self-absorbed Ulrick.
One of the more interesting characters in the book aside from Opal is her school nemesis, who also happens to be in the running for becoming a Master Magician. Their interactions teach Opal a few things about herself, both magical and psychological, and they develop into unlikely allies. Theirs is one of several loose ends left in the book that will likely be continued in the next book, Sea Glass.
The Cover: I love the visualization of the magic encased in a glass ball, but hidden - like a secret.
First Line: "The hot air pressed against my face as I entered the glass factory."
This descriptive first line helps me feel as the narrator feels, as well as introduces me to the arching theme of the series - very nice.
Favorite Quote: "Yippee. I’ve been promoted from fire lighter to delivery boy. I’ll write a letter home to Mother. She’ll be so pleased.”
Read For: What's In a Name Challenge