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Leopard in Exile by Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill
Cover art and design by Thomas Canty
Edited by Jim Frenkel
Published by Tor Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
When international politics are involved, seemingly solved problems have a way of working themselves loose again. In the end of Shadow of Albion the Lost Dauphin, Louis-Charles, was safely spirited away to the New World with his beloved Meriel. There, so went the plan, they were going to be able to live happily after in genteel obscurity.
But things are rarely so simple, especially in a world where magic is real and royal blood has power. Lous-Charles Capet may have renounced his claim on the throne of France and desired nothing more than a quiet retirement to private life, but his heritage may not let him. Particularly when it is useful for the foul purposes of a diabolist.
The Marquis de Sade, known in this alternate universe as the Duc d'Charenton, had hatched a plan to plunge the entire world into Satanic darkness in return for immortality and inconceivable magical power. To do that requires the sacrifice of a royal prince, and young Louis-Charles will do quite nicely. Kidnap him, spirit him away to the appointed place, and all that is good in the world is doomed.
But d'Charenton's machinations have attracted the attentions of the British secret service. The young Duke of Wessex and his vivacious wife Sarah, formerly an American orphan from our own timeline, enter into a desperate race against time to rescue Louis-Charles and foil d'Charenton's scheme.
But that is a delicate undertaking. In this world where magic is real, only one who is of royal blood can safely slay a diabolist, by calling upon the magic that binds people and land via the crown. As a descendent of one of the Merry Monarch's many by-blows, the Duke has that qualification, but d'Charenton knows that, and will be prepared against him.
This is a complex and richly imagined story of a world that is like our own, yet very different from it. Some may find the tone of the footnotes condescending and annoying, while others will find them witty and amusing. Feel free to skip them if they're too annoying for your taste, but don't let them spoil your enjoyment of this fascinating alternate world.
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Review posted March 14, 2002
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