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Sunday, April 25, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Books Briefly

''Strange Devices Of The Sun And Moon''

"Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon" by Lisa Goldstein Tor, $19.95

Lisa Goldstein's new fantasy is a tale of magic, conflict and longing similar in scope and vigor to her award-winning first novel, "The Red Magician." "Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon" is set in a carefully crafted Elizabethan England, complete with court intrigue, real-life characters such as Thomas Nashe and Christopher Marlowe - and the first hints of an actor-turned-playwright named "Shakes"-something.

In the shadows and moonlit night of this well-realized world, Goldstein also has painted the richly textured world of Fairy, with the Fairy Queen, Oriana, in a desperate struggle with the Red King for rule of the netherworld. The outcome hinges on Oriana's son, raised by a mortal, who just happens to be the returned King Arthur. Unfortunately, the confused young man was last seen hiding out in the literary pubs of London.

The plot revolves around Arthur's mortal mother, Alice Wood, and her quest for her lost son. The novel truly comes to life not in the Fairy world but in the more mundane world of playwrights and poets of the day. Goldstein provides a charmingly ironic view of the petty jealousies and minor triumphs that accompanied the great flowering of English literature in the late 1500s, and she makes an interesting case for real magic influencing, even empowering the English Renaissance.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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