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Point of Dreams
by Melissa Scott & Lisa Barnett

Category: Fiction / Fantasy
384 pages; ISBN: 0312867824

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen


This is another in a series of novels set in the Late Renaissance city-state of Astreiant, a place where astrologers and necromancers are the authority and magic works.

The city has gone nuts with enthusiasm over a lurid play full of melodrama called The Drowned Island. A soldier named Philip Eslingen gets drafted as "swordfight coordinator" over a bunch of nobles in the play who aren't accustomed to being told what to do. Things get really interesting when a real dead body is found on stage. Adjunct Point Nicholas Rathe, the local equivalent of a police detective and a friend of Eslingen's, is called in to investigate. According to the necromancer, the deceased, another local noble, died of drowning at the spot where the body was found, without even a drop of water anywhere nearby. Several more deaths involved with the play make things worse. Rathe asks Eslingen to keep an eye on the nobles and otherwise nose around and see what he can find.

Rathe also has to investigate the appearance in the city of copies of a book called the Alphabet. It is reputed to tell how to arrange certain flowers in certain configurations to create a sort of magic force field that affects anyone within range. All copies have to be investigated, for there is no way to know if a certain copy of the book really works. Rathe begins to think that maybe one or more of the murders, especially the "drowning" victim, may have been killed with help from the right configuration of flowers.

Making things a little more tense for everyone is the fact that for a couple of days each month, ghosts of the dead become visible. They don't talk, but they certainly influence everyone.

This is not a very easy or quick read, but, by the end, the reader will find that this is a very intelligent and well done read. The authors do a fine job throughout, with the characters, the society building, and the mystery. It is a very satisfying piece of writing.


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