At large public celebrations one must beware of stepping on the drunken squirrels and giants hurl boulders into the air for enchantresses to turn into fireworks. Lions tell stories reminding those who hunt to eat to respect the last wishes of their prey. The people are a mix of talking animals and people, all of whom apparently wish to die an honorable death by feeding someone (!) instead of dying of old age.
Osric is Portentist, and is a security officer. He has the gift of knowing when something momentous or dangerous is about to happen, and can sense the threatening intentions of others. His skills have advanced him to the high position of Vigile Contege, but he can’t shake the suspicion his superiors haven’t told him everything. The previous Contege has disappeared. Osric has been given a fine Eni wand as a reward for having thwarted an attempt to assassinate the Chancellor of the Wizardly Union.
The people are celebrating the ratification of a treaty, and at the big party in the castle, Osric’s gift as a portentist kicks in and he realizes a terrible crime is about to occur. This time, his gift tells him 2 things are about to occur and he chooses to go to the throne room to stop whatever is happening there. He discovers the problem – a goblet full of pearls is glowing, and he also discovers his wand is missing. Unable to prevent the pearls from exploding, Osric is knocked unconscious.
While being dug out of the debris, Osric is given a wand made by the famous wand-maker, Gus (a prairie-dog), one that he hasn’t had time to finish and pretty up yet and so it looks like an ordinary stick instead of a wand. The first time Osric uses it, he is overcome by the power-lock – the experience a person has when getting used to a new wand. Not only that, but unicorns have begun to take an interest in him – one saving his life in the explosion. He meets Bridgett, Maiden of the Unicorns, who can give him no answers as to what the unicorns know about the explosion.
Soon, Osric discovers that the weasels and something called the irua – a subterestrial race who occupied the same lands as the weasels, are involved in the explosion. Soon, he and his companions are boldly going into danger and Osric is discovering all sorts of powers his new wand bestows upon him. A witch’s vision declares ‘Victory cannot be achieved until the wand-that-is-not-a-wand is known by all on their path.’
Of course, more is going on than meets the eye at first. The treachery goes deep and Osric is determined to unravel it.
This is an intense tale, with many different characters and all of them clear and unique. There is a great deal of action, but the conversations are fascinating and quite humorous. The adventures Osric has with his companions are unexpected and exciting, and Osric himself is so much more than merely a policeman. Despite the fact it is a setup for a series I loved this book. It ends well enough to satisfy, and leaves you wanting more. I like that in fantasy!