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Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly
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Stranger at the Wedding (1994)

by Barbara Hambly

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Windrose Chronicles (spin-off)

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6521314,774 (3.8)1 / 42

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This book takes place shortly after 'Dog Wizard', the third book in the Windrose Chronicles. However, it is not at all necessary to have read the preceding books; although this book takes place in the same universe and some of the characters are the same, the action centres around Kyra Peldyrin, known as Kyra the Red, who only gets about two lines in the previous books.

Kyra lives in a world where those who are born with the power of sorcery have the choice between a career as a 'dog-wizard' - basically a hedge-wizard, doing little spells, and probably quite poor - or an Academy wizard. The problem is that by joining the Academy, a wizard cuts all ties with his or her home and family. In this world, Hambly has obviously thought about the likely effects of the existence of magic-workers on commerce and trade, and has decided that wizards would not be allowed to sign contracts - all too easy for a wizard's enemies' business dealings to go awry. This means Academy wizards live almost completely apart from the rest of society and devote their time to studying - they swear not to interfere in the events of the world 'either for evil or for that which seems to me to be good', on the grounds that even when a wizard means well, it's all too easy for unfortunate events to result from the best intentions when magic is involved. So, for a merchant to suddenly find that his daughter - whom he had been planning to make his successor, and for whom he had been planning a good marriage - is a wizard is NOT welcome. By the time the book opens, Kyra has almost been disowned by her family under what, as we discover during the book, were more than usually complex circumstances.

When the book opens, Kyra's magic has been going awry, and she receives news that her sister is about to be married. She believes that a curse has been cast and that her sister will die on her wedding night. The trouble is, how can Kyra find the curse and break it in time to save her sister's life? The only way is to delay the wedding...

The world in which this book is set is just embarking on its industrial revolution, which makes a pleasant change from the usual high-medieval setting. Kyra's family social circle is upper middle class trying to ape the nobility; there is plenty of social strutting and keeping up with the Joneses. The characters are well-written, from the clever, sarcastic misfit Kyra, to the appalling Earthwygg family, the Peldyrins' patrons at Court. The plot moves on a breakneck pace, moving from humour to horror as past events are recounted and Kyra closes in on the unknown enemy who is trying to kill her sister.

This book is an excellent standalone fantasy novel; original setting, interesting characters whom you like enough to care about, and a plot that's pretty devious and nasty. ( )
1 vote T_K_Elliott | Mar 12, 2017 |
A fantasy comedy of manners, in which Kyra returns home for the first time in six years, since she left to be educated as a wizard, for her sister's wedding.

This sounded like it was exactly my cup of tea, right down to the delightfully predictable romance and the unexpected (and serious) revelations about the characters' histories. But it wasn't my cup of tea. I enjoyed reading it, but I found myself feeling frustrated with it, because I wanted it to be something more but I couldn't identify what or why. (Something about the prose?) ( )
  Herenya | Mar 28, 2016 |
Ignore the terrible cover. This is an excellent, sophisticated book.

Kyra's magical studies are interrupted by premonitions of her sister's death. Determined to save her younger sister, Kyra returns to her merchant family's home, even though they killed her teacher and disowned her years before. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Stranger at the Wedding is a female led second world fantasy novel that I enjoyed but am unlikely to ever feel the urge to read again.

In the world of Stranger at the Wedding, wizards are feared and legislated against. The only protection is to join the Citadel, home of academically minded wizards who vow not to take part in the affairs of ordinary people. Kya is studying for her exams at the Citadel when she becomes aware of strange portents in her magic. She eventually figures out that her sister Alix is going to die on her wedding night.

To save her sister, Kya has to venture back to the home that disowned her and do some meddling, putting her at risk from the Inquisition.

For the most part, the book is structured like it’s a mystery. Who’s trying to kill Alix? Unfortunately this doesn’t work well because information necessary to guess the killer is being held back. The pacing also slows down in some sections because of this.

I liked the world building and thought it was well realized. The descriptions of the city really helped it come alive and give it a sense of place. The world was undergoing industrial revolution, which was a nice touch and made it something different than the standard “medieval Europe” fantasy. That element probably stood out the most. While everything else was well realized, it didn’t feel particularly unique.

I liked Kyra as a protagonist, but I never really loved her. For whatever reason, I just never felt a strong emotional connection to her. However, I did like how she wasn’t the only sympathetic female character. Alix easily could have been written as the mean pretty girl or the dumb blond, but instead she was kind and smart in her own way.

The romance wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible either. I could tolerate it. For the most part, it just felt very predictable and sudden. The heroine clumsily trips and falls into the arms of a nearby man? Hmm, I wonder who’s the love interest? What’s annoying is this “trips and falls into his arms” gag is used numerous times. Although to be fair, she did fall flat on her face at other sections of the book too.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | May 17, 2015 |
TBR
  Ebeth.Naylor | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Hamblyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Maitz, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For George Alec Effinger
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"It turned to blood. The water turned to blood." (prologue)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Stranger at the Wedding" (originally published in the US) was published in the UK as "Sorceror's Ward".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345380975, Mass Market Paperback)

Kyra was preparing for her final wizard test before the Council. But suddenly, something was twisting her magic, weaving sinister portents of doom into even the simplest of her spells. Then she knew for certain that her young sister Alix was soon to marry--and soon to die. And so she journeyed back to the family who had disowned her. To save her sister, Kyra would have to face down her father's rage, stand firm against the venomous rivalries of her family's enemies, and confront the Inquisition. Then she must defeat a still deadlier foe--if only she could find it!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After she has a premonition that her sister will die when she takes her marriage vows, a young wizard attempts to stop the wedding It's normal for a young girl to be jealous of her sister's impending wedding, and Kyra is jealous indeed. A plain looking young magic student whose incipient wizardly abilities have done nothing to attract the attentions of the boys of her town, she is not surprised to learn that her sister has caught the eye of one of the city's wealthiest merchants. But she is alarmed by some of the signs that are coming up in her prognostication lessons. Water turns to blood, the death card haunts her tarot practice, and finally she has a specific vision: that her sister will die the day she takes her vows. Using every trick in her small magic arsenal, Kyra attempts to disrupt the wedding, going up against a force more powerful than any magic: an impatient bride. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Barbara Hambly, including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author's personal collection.… (more)

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