Fiona McIntosh left London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She runs a travel publishing company, with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her family. The Whisperer is her first book for younger readers.
Though the world-building remains top-notch, this slow-moving second installment of McIntosh's epic fantasy (after Odalisque) appears mainly designed to set up more interesting action in later volumes. Ana, a virginal odalisque, is trapped in the idle harem of Boaz, the chaste, adolescent Zar of Percheron. Nearly every man who sees Ana desires and adores her, not only the Zar but also exiled warrior Lazar and the goddess-touched, shape-shifting dwarf, Pez. However, Herezah, the Zar's mother, sees Ana as a dangerous threat to her supremacy in the harem, and she concocts a plan with chief eunuch Salmeo to bring about Ana's humiliation and demise. A new setting eventually blows a fresh desert breeze through the stifling atmosphere, but the hundreds of pages spent building up to Ana's escape attempt, including a disturbing scene of sexual torture at Salmeo's hands, will have the reader sharing Ana's longing to be anywhere other than the Zar's palace. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
McIntosh is a master at drawing readers into her world. The richness and colour of Percheron and its traditions-both barbaric and beautiful-are detailed superbly in her latest novel Emissary, the sequel to bestseller Odalisque. Emissary begins with Odalisque Ana resigning herself to life in the Harem until Kett, the unfortunate boy recruited as a eunuch in Odalisque, plants a seed of hope in her heart. The story moves along at a blistering pace as old favourites-back-from-the-dead Lazar, Zar Boaz, the Valide and the seemingly insane dwarf Pez-contrive to save Percheron from the threat of war, while the Grand Vizier schemes to discover the true identity of arch enemies Iridor and Lyana. McIntosh succeeds in making her audience want more. The cliffhanger ending, in which Lazar must choose between heart and duty is superb. I know I am already anticipating what will happen next. Fans of Fiona McIntosh won't be disappointed with Emissary, and I'd encourage fantasy lovers who haven't read any of this author's work to do so-her books are real page-turners. Sharon Athanasos is a bookseller at Meg's Booksho in Port Pirie