Touchstone (The Glass Thorns), by Melanie Rawn

Review published on January 15, 2013. Reviewed by Sara Garland

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

Best-selling author, Melanie Rawn has produced a new series of books commencing with Touchstone. It follows the lives of the magical theatrical troupe, Touchstone. At the outset the group are planning for their auditions – hoping for success in order to be able to take their performances on a circuit tour around a host of towns. They dream of gaining such success and notoriety that they can earn sufficient money to cement their futures.

With descriptions of olden caverns and castles and vicinities, within which the troupe perform, (the remnants of which are quite Shakespearean), much less is written about the landscape and world, which is left for the reader to imagine and create from the limited information provided. This essentially because the story heavily focuses on the complex characters, their relationships and interdependencies in often very trying circumstances.

For this reason the story has a gentle meandering style, but one that has an undertone of mystery and intrigue which will no doubt be carefully drip fed over the forthcoming novels. Cade is the Tregatour, a playwright if you will, who is a mix of wizard, elf, human and fae. He is a fiercely intelligent and respected member of the group, particularly for his writing abilities and supreme organisational skills. He is however very intense and serious, often truculent, prone to ill temper and rages. But he has the ability to foresee through his dreams, which proves to be a heavy burden. Along with Rafe and Jeska they make an ambitious team, especially since Mieka a skilled, yet mischievous elf joins them. Mieka has an intriguing background, not fully explained or clear. He has the ability to make people laugh or infuriate beyond belief, with his tireless accolades and risky behaviour. Behind them all is a strong female, Blye who makes withies – magical sticks harnessed (often also with drugs) to store and distribute magical visual and emotional effects upon the audience. Her true place in the story has yet to become clear.

The dense character layering set in this first instalment whether deliberate or not is likely to leave you somewhat frustrated, not knowing what is to come and needing to know more about the characters and what is in store. The pace of the storytelling is leisurely; key information is drip fed, which risks readers wanting for more significant storytelling events to happen. However Rawn has in her intensely detailed characterisation created some very multifaceted individuals, which are being carefully drawn out. So far only a small part of their world has been revealed. It is clear there is much more to learn and scope for the story to continue in a multitude of directions. Thankfully more will come to light rather soon, when the second book in the series, Elsewhens is released in February 2013.

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