I like to re-read and review at least one Lois book per year, even though it’s always hard for me to think of much to say besides “I love this!” It’s been a while since I revisited Fiametta, so I chose one of Lois’s rare (only?) standalone books, the fantasy Spirit Ring.
Also rarely, this book takes place in the real(ish) world, in Renaissance-y Italy. Except that there’s magic. Fiametta Beneforte is a bright, headstrong daughter of a wealthy sorcerer and metalworker. Her father creates beautiful sculptures and jewelry, and casts spells into the molten metal as he’s creating. Fiametta is his apprentice, surreptitiously casting a true-love-identifying spell into a ring she made.
Things are happy and busy and blissful in Fiametta’s world, until a rival kills the city’s Duke and throws everything into chaos. The villain has his own evil sorcerer, and bad things are afoot even before Fiametta’s father is killed. When the evil sorcerer steals her father’s body in order to compel his spirit into a very-much-against-the-rules spirit ring, it’s a race against time while Fiametta and some unexpected allies try to save the day.
Thur’s brother Uri was one of the Duke’s guards, and he was on his way to Montefoglia to work for Master Beneforte when all hell broke loose. Thur is a solid, dependable dude, and is very shocked to find himself involved with all these plots and intrigues. If you guessed who ends up wearing Fiametta’s love-identifying ring, congratulations! You’ve read a book before.
It all sounds very simple and like every other fantasy book you’ve ever read, but it’s a familiar tale told by a master. I always forget how funny Lois is. Her characters leap off the page, and there are enough different touches that even well-trod tropes seem fresh.