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The Wizard of Karres
Witches of Karres #2
by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer
Baen, 313pp
Published: August 2004

“Witches of Karres” has always been a reread favorite of mine but I never thought of how a sequel might be.  Obviously, someone did…and I’m pretty happy with the results.

The story picks up right where James Schmitz’s left off.  Captain Pausert is on a mission with the two youngest witches, Goth and the Leewit, and with a signed safe-passage from the Empress herself.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to carry any weight with the Imperial cruisers who are determined to board The Venture and capture themselves a real Karres witch.  While the Captain feels mostly confident that Goth will fool the investigators, what he’s also a bit worried about is a baby vatch that’s been tormenting the Leewit.  Since Pausert is an experienced vatch handler, he was sure he could get rid of the pesky thing but it turned out to be that rare type of vatch that can’t be handled.

But the extent of the Imperial search-and-seize sent up all kinds of red flags for the Captain; flags he wanted an explanation for – nobody told him their little mission was going to garner that much interest.  And since he has an Imperial spy onboard in the form of the Nartheby Sprite Hantis and her Grik dog, Puls, he’s sure he can get those answers.  As it turns out, the Witches are aware of a nasty nanovirus that is trying to take over the known universe and while they’re in hiding to protect their planet, they are counting on Pausert to make it thru to the Empress to inform her personally of the danger.  It has to be personal since there is no way of knowing how many of her palace staff might already be possessed by the nanites.

So, with two young witches, a Nartheby Sprite, a Grik dog who can sniff out nanites, and their old spacer friend Vezzarn, Pausert just might have enough talent and skills to make it work.  What he didn’t count on was the amount of interference from the baby vatch or that he would ultimately need its assistance to succeed.  And he sure didn’t anticipate the need to join the circus to hide out long enough to repair their ship.  And now the fun really starts rolling!

The story involves a long stay with the circus, an unexpected love story (no, it’s not Goth.  She’s still a child.), and time travel. And plenty of violence and suspense…and don’t forget the vatch…ummm, vatches.  The plot was just wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The characters were great and the story went along at a good pace.  And the title, you ask?  Well, as it turns out, crisis and need tend to bring out unexpected talents and the Captain is no exception.  Klatha comes to those who need it most, right?  But his talents tend to be…well, different than most witches; making him a wizard. ~~ Catherine Book

For other titles in this series click here
For other titles by Eric Flint click here
For other titles by Dave Freer click here

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