FIRST TRUTH is a charming little quest fantasy with adventure and blossoming romance. There are rough patches, but they didn't spoil the story for me. FIRST TRUTH could as easily have been a young adult novel. Bear with me as I write a really long description of the book.
When her mother becomes convinced that Alissa has latent magic inherited from her deceased father in her, she broken-heartedly shoves Alissa out the door of their farmhouse and tells her to go to The Hold--a place she claims Alissa will find without a map. Since Alissa doesn't even believe magic exists, and the onset of first snow is nigh, this is hard for her to swallow.
Along the way she crosses paths with a young Plains man--a musician on his way back to the Coast. Strell gets drawn to Alissa's quest to go deeper into the mountains by the promise of learning great new stories for his repertoire.
Alissa has a fiery personality, and Strell an easy-going teasing one. The best part of the book is seeing the two of them bicker and tease each other, becoming good friends, and--on one side at least--something overtly more. They find strength in each other.
The worst part of the book is the villain. His machinations never quite seem logical so much as convenient for the author in order to advance the plot in the direction she wants it to go. Also, I'm not sure we ever learned what role these secret magicians play in this world. There're lots of gaps.
Strell and Alissa winter in the practically deserted Hold. Bailic has killed all the other magicians but one, and now needs either Alissa or Strell--he can't figure out which is the latent magician--to find a magical book for him. He has a silly plot to rule the world with the aid of this book. Alissa and Strell and Bailic play cat and mouse to discover this book, hide Alissa's strong magical abilities, and free the one imprisoned Master of The Hold who may be able to stop Bailic.
Anyway...I recommend FIRST TRUTH. The chemistry between the plucky heroine and loyal hero--and some clever writing--drives this winning tale of courage, love and friendship overcoming great odds. The world-building needs strengthening, the villain's intelligence needs repairing, and many plot points still need resolving but, hey, that's what sequels are for. Fingers crossed that Dawn Cook's next book is at least as good if not a step above.--Preeti (28 May 02)
I also recommend it. My thoughts on the book seem to echo Preeti's review(which I just reread.) I like the main characters and their interaction. I also thought it would make a good young adult fantasy also. And it was a relief to read a fantasy that wasn't quite so dark. Which must sound weird since all the wizards were being killed but I've been living in the land of the demons (Hambly). :-) I thought it was well written and a very good first book though I had the same quibbles about the enemy as Preeti.--Linda (29 Jun 02)
Discommend for me. I couldn't finish it. The characters just didn't appeal to me. I stopped when the heroine got too stupid for me. She realizes a bad wizard is occupying the keep, that he's responsible for the death of her father and many other wizards, and that he's imprisoned the head wizard for years. In spite of this, she, who knows *nothing* of wizardry and magic, decides she must go on to the keep to retrieve a book. I didn't buy it.--Edith (2 Aug 02)