This is classic Norton; good dueling evil in hard-fought battle. A good addition to any YA library.
From back cover: Once the Wind united the Valley with the Forest, enveloping them in the strongest of magics which protected the land and banished the threatening Darkness. And there was peace for many centuries...Until the Dark returned.
A mage, seeking to enslave the Valley and destroy the Forest, has brutally sundered a family. A mother has fled into the woods with her infant girl-child, while the depraved sorcerer holds the babe's twin--a boy--captive in a black tower. The mother dies but the girl survives. Adopted by the strange denizens of the Forest--safe from the mage's malevolent influence--she grows to young womanhood, cultivating a cherished skill that has been denied the others of her kind: the ability to truly hear the sounds of her world. But her future will be fraught with trial and terror, for only she can smash the chains that shackle the Balley and its inhabitants. It is her destiny to confront sorcerer and demon minions, and to oppose the one she must conquer and free: the magician's protege and her most powerful adversary. Her bane and blood... Her brother.
OK, it had to happen sooner or later. This was the first Andre Norton book to really disappoint me. It was like trying to walk through mud. It took far to long to develop the plot, the story line was obtuse and difficult to follow (which is probably redundant). Perhaps I've come to expect so much from Norton that missing the mark was a much greater disappointment for me. I know I am not supposed to post information about my copy of the book, but this remark is pertinent to my review: It was necessary for me to take my copy out of circulation because it was falling apart - a bad binding job I think, but I disliked the book so much it did not bother me to throw it away. I still think Norton may be my favorite author, however!
I bought this book because it had pretty cover art by Kinuko Craft (whos done art for most of Patricia McKillips books). However, the old cliché holds true even if sometimes in reverse: you cant judge a book by its cover. More effort (and probably time) went into the cover than the story. Andre Norton has written some very entertaining novels. This is not one of them. It reminded me of some of the most generic fantasy of the 70s (although it was published in 1999).
Long ago, a Covenant was formed between Dark and Light, keeping an agrarian community at peace. Now, a rogue Mage has left the Place of Learning, and, summoning up some gobbes (goblins) embarks on a Reign of Terror, quickly becoming the Dark Lord. (Why? Who knows.) Although the peasants have largely forgotten their magic, the Wind (an embodiment of She (goddess)) is there to help them, and of course Fateful Twins are born.
Dont get me wrong, I can often enjoy this kind of cheesy stuff, but I do ask that it come bundled with characterization, plot structure, and general coherency. Here, it doesnt.