City of Pearl (An Aelf Fen Mystery)

Written by Alys Clare
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

This is Book Nine of the Aelf Fen mystery series, mostly set in 11th-century East Anglia. Lassair, apprentice to the healer and magician Gurdyman, has been enduring a string of tragedies. Now, Gurdyman needs to travel to Spain for mysterious reasons, and it seems that Lassair would benefit from going with him. Gurdyman was born in England, but he and his parents settled in Spain after going there on a pilgrimage. He was raised there and learned much from the well-developed Moorish culture. Now he and Lassair encounter a mixed reception from the local population, and end up enduring much privation and danger until they are rescued and taken to the beautiful, hidden City of Pearl. A frightening disaster strikes, and Lassair is removed from the scene and taken on a long, mystical journey. She is led deep under a mountain, and out to a place of great wisdom and magic. She discovers she will be staying there as a student for the foreseeable future.

This story is heavy on magic and light on history and mystery.  There is very little Aelf Fen in this mostly Spanish-set book.  Fans will read it as a matter of course, and will enjoy meeting lawman Jack Chevestrier, wizard Hrype, and Viking Thorfinn again. New readers will have a better experience by going back to the beginning of the series and reading the books in order.