There is a song you dare not sing....a Song of Power. It is a gateway to another world, a world of great danger as well as great beauty. . .
A slow but compelling start to a very complex fantasy series, April 7, 2000
Reviewer: Bruce Ewing (Eugene, OR USA)
This is the 1st book of a 2 book series. The last is The Serpent Mage. Both books have also been combined as another title, "Songs of Earth & Power." My detailed rating would be 4.1 for this book. The essential story of this book is very simple. The main character (Michael) is forcibly drafted by the Elves (Sidhe) to learn magic. It's a traumatic experience. But that's not the strength of the book. Bear generally writes fairly hard SF. The magic here has some interesting physics to it! But the best thing is the history. Bear provides a detailed history starting at the beginning of time. Not exactly with quarks either. This extremely complex history of the 5+ sentient races on Earth drives the whole story, and you learn that history a piece at a time through the two books. Why is Michael drafted by the elves? You find out by the middle of the second book. This first book would not be satisfying all by itself. You need the second also. If you like friendly elves, this is not the series for you. Most of the elves here are cold, cruel, and callous. Why? That's part of the history!
The whole book is a set up fot the sequel "The Serpent Mage." You finish it and still don't really know whats going on.