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on 28 September 2012
Please note: this is THE SAME BOOK as 'Sorcerer's Ward'; as far as I can tell, this book was always titled 'Stranger at the Wedding' in the USA, and the USA title has been used for the UK kindle edition.

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.

Highly recommended.
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on 16 June 2014
I love Barbara Hambly's books and have really enjoyed reading those that were so difficult to get in print. This is her usual well done fantasy, with likeable characters and a well fleshed out world.
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on 5 January 2015
This book is "Sorcerer's Ward" with a different title! Very annoying when they do this!
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on 3 August 1999
This book is refreshing, because it's not another "fight the dark evil god" too common in fantasy. The story is about a predicted curse, and who have done it ? And how to dodge it, too. The romance is present, but not too important. It's not a love book, but a mistery one.
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on 5 August 1997
This book is about an outcast who is home to see her sisters wedding, but gets mixed up in magic mayhem. The family is afraid of her magic powers, and her father is permanantly mad at her for being a wizard. And She seems to be falling in love with her sisters fiance. And her sister doesn't want to marry her fiance. And on top of all that it seems that a wizard also loves her sister and wants her for himself while another woman wants the fiance to marry her daughter!This book is great for everyone to read!
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