Night of the Change
Michael Lawson
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Get *Toll: Night of the Change* delivered to your door! Toll, Book One: Night of the Change
Michael Lawson
Trafford Publishing
328 pages
January 2003
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

previous reviewnext review

The first book in Michael Lawson's Toll trilogy, Night of the Change covers familiar sword and sorcery ground: a magical threat fed by the human lust for power leaves the fate of a land teetering on a knife's edge. An outnumbered band of loyalists determined to save the land and people they love set themselves against a rogue cadre of wizards and royal rebels, daring to stand firm before the unimaginable powers of the few who would rule over all.

Curled Up With a Good BookThe good-versus-evil standard gets a twist here, though, as the faithful find they must deny the laws they have always sought to honor in order to protect the greater good. The insurgents, meanwhile, begin to understand that chaos unchecked by some sort of restraining framework will leave them with nothing to rule.

Thousands of years ago, Hilan the Peacemaker set in place the Restraints and his Flame to guard Toll against the abuse of rampant magic. After millennia of wizards lording over the cowering masses of ungifted humans, a balance had been struck. Now the Flame Lord Adna Toulon presides over those gifted with magic; in Flame Hold, these are protected from the madness the onset of their gift can bring on by careful training in the ways of the Restraints. The High Lord leads the lords of the five holds, governing the more prosaic aspects of life in Toll.

This delicate balance is forever upset in a single night, when a rogue wizard and a pretender to the High Lord's throne unleash an attack upon Hilan's Flame. The Restraints put in place to temper the play of magic on the land are cast into dangerous flux, and as the ten-year Gathering of the Lords approaches, the rebels set their traitorous plans in motion. Neither side of the approaching clash is blameless, and three sets of young lovers are caught up in the tangled skein of Toll's fate: Eker Raum, a talented rogue wizard burning with the need to avenge his father's madness and death, and the slave girl Sharu; the Flame Lord's second, Mesur Vajeza, and the gifted healer witch Adriel Atul; and the heir to the Danisian throne, Cateena Roo, and Kell-an, the adopted son of the Wolf of Corl. As unfettered magic begins to rain death in the opening sorties of this new war of wizards, these six will play integral parts in determining the future of Toll, and they will be forced to choose between love and responsibility.

It is that focus on the double binds that personal affection and commitment to a greater cause put on the story's main characters, as well as the realizations that neither good nor evil is ever really absolute, that sets Night of the Change above many of its neighbors on the fantasy shelves. Surprisingly affecting romantic subplots enrich the novel's main storyline without becoming too distracting. A stronger editorial hand red-penning the occasionally clumsy unspoken asides (although most of the spoken dialogue feels natural), double-checking some poor spelling choices, and speeding up the narrative by stroking through sometimes repetitive description would lift Night of the Change to the level of excellence its plot potential hints at. As it is, this is still a worthy addition to the epic fantasy fan's library -- a great story (mostly) well-told.

© 2003 by Sharon Schulz-Elsing for Curled Up With a Good Book

Get *Toll: Night of the Change* delivered to your door!
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.