I’m surprised the Epilogue was left out of revised edition, but I can see why it’s been excised: these events are mentioned in passing during the course of Cry of the Wolf. Still, it’s interesting to see what causes the events of the next book to occur.
First we have an e-mail from Melin (I think it’s supposed to be Meilin, but whatever), a Chinese girl who is one of the Ravenswood website’s first visitors:
Very excellent Web site! So much information about animals! I am an animal lover in China and so happy to find you. 🙂 I wish I could have a pet, but my father will not let me — he is an archaeologist, and we must travel too much. We are now on the site of a new dig about two hours north of Shanghai and it is very exciting. My father says we have found an ancient city. Yesterday the team dug up a statue of a dragon lying curled around an egg. A very big egg. But this does not look like most Chinese dragons, and I am very curious to learn more. Do you know how I can learn more information about magical creatures?
Your new friend,
I guess Melin guessed the password for the private site, because she asks the party about magical creatures. Also, her English grammar’s pretty good for a Chinese-speaking girl. (Maybe she used Babelfish?)
After this is a brief scene in which a mistwolf is captured by shadowy hunters in the Shadowlands. And that’s it.
Next time: first impressions on the next book, Cry of the Wolf.
(Note: in the original edition, this is Chapter 22.)
It’s been a few days since the last chapter, and everything’s back to normal: Kara’s hair is blond again, Emily and Adriane are working on the Ravenswood website, and the Catty Girl Posse is IM’ing Kara incessantly. The Catty Girls are still a little miffed that Kara’s hanging out with the party, but Kara reassures them that they’re still BFFs no matter where their interests lie. It’s here we learn that Heather
is working on the school play is a decent singer (this is important later!), Molly’s parents have a catering business, and Tiffany is in the school band takes dance lessons (which was mentioned earlier in the book). Nice to see that the Catty Girls actually have lives beyond shopping and being popular.
Anyway, the big event today is that the party’s publishing their website. They got the public and private sites completed, and all they have to do is log onto the city server. (The original edition even mentions the private site’s domain: http://www.webofmagic.com. This isn’t the official website’s address — there’s no record of it on the Wayback Machine, and typing the address into the browser only leads to a rather blank page.) Kara decides to mark the occasion by giving Emily and Adriane new bracelets for their Sparkly Rocks. Emily gets a silver bracelet, and Adriane gets a black leather band with turquoise inlays (which, for some reason, are never included in the book’s illustrations). Pretty spiffy, huh?
dials logs onto the server, and Kara inputs the private site’s (very weak) password: Avalon. The site’s published, and the readers get a glimpse of the homepage:
WELCOME TO RAVENSWOOD WILDLIFE PRESERVE
Open 11 A.M. to dusk
Please stay on the paths and don’t feed the animals.
Take only pictures and leave only footprints.
The Guides of the Ravenswood Preserve, Emily Fletcher, Adriane Chardáy, and Kara Davies, have created this Web site so people all over the world can learn about wildlife preservation. Wander through the site and discover what makes Ravenswood so special.
Here, we are all explorers and students of nature. We all have a role in protecting our natural world and every creature that lives there. If we care for the earth, these special friends and wild places will be preserved and available for our families and future generations to enjoy.
THE RAVENSWOOD WILDLIFE PRESERVATION SOCIETY CREED:
- Respect our planet and all life forms we share with it.
- Preserve endangered and threatened animals and their habitats.
- Protect wild animals and wild places.
- Save all wonders of the living natural world.
Promote care and positive action for the natural world.
- Value the wilderness and the wild things that live there.
And if you have the revised edition, this is where the book ends.
EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition (including bestiary)
- Kara texts the Catty Girls instead of IM-ing them.
- The homepage is omitted. The homepage text from both print editions has been added to the recap above.
- Water Fairimentals have been reclassified as Neutral.
Next time: All the stuff new readers missed out on at the end of the original edition!
(Note: in the original edition, this is Chapter 21.)
The portal opens, and in comes the Dark Sorceress, in all her creepy half-human, half-animal (manimal?) majesty. She taunts the party a little, throwing out typical antagonist-meets-heroes-for-the-first-time phrases like “so it has come to pass!” and mocking their admittedly craptacular use of magic. (As of this point in the series, Kara and Adriane know five spells, and Emily knows six; out of all of those, only half of them have any practical use in battle. This doesn’t include combination attacks, of course.)
Anyway, the Sorceress is here to get the Sparkly Horn, which the sexy green-haired wraiths
threw into a random portal when the Sorceress last tried to obtain it have been hunting for ages. The wraiths got cursed and turned into banshees during their search. (In the original edition, the Sorceress cursed them.)
Kara asks the Sorceress, “Um, why can’t you just take the Sparkly Horn from me?” The Sorceress insists that the Sparkly Horn isn’t meant for her, so she can’t use it. Only Kara can summon the unicorn with it; of course, after the unicorn arrives, the Sorceress plans on capturing it and taking its magic. The party urges Kara not to use the Sparkly Horn, while the Sorceress continues to taunt the party — hell, she even makes Ozzie question the nature of his existence in the new edition:
The sorceress eyed the ferret and laughed. “What a cruel joke the Fairimentals have played on you. An elf in the shape of a … puny rat. Do you even remember who you are anymore?”
Okay, that pisses the party off. Time for another boss battle!
… Except the party’s spells have absolutely no effect, and Stormbringer jumps through the Sorceress as if she were a hologram or something. So, not much of a battle.
Now the banshees urge Kara to give the Sparkly Horn to them, instead of using it to summon the unicorn. Kara realizes that, even though the Sparkly Horn gives her all the magic she ever wanted, using it would make her just as bad as the Sorceress. So she does a noble deed and gives it to the banshees, who promptly return to their hot green-haired wraith forms. (Keep this is mind for later in the series: giving magic items away freely is Very Important.) The Sorceress gets pissed and exits through the portal, saying stuff like, “Fools, you’ll never be able to use magic properly without my guidance! Your refugee friends won’t be safe here
because I’ll totally nuke the place!”
Now, if this was a video game, Kara would undoubtedly have the option to keep the Sparkly Horn for herself, summon the unicorn, and potentially ruin everything. Someone should write an alternate version of the series where this happens, because I think that would be awesome.
Anyway, the wraiths are all glad that they’ve been saved, and in thanks they tell the party how to prevent enemies from entering the portal in the future: by placing a dreamcatcher over it. Apparently the dragonflies are great at weaving these dreamcatchers, which in the Avalon universe are items that let anything “
whose goodness is known by the magic who use[s] good magic” pass through, and keep evil things out. A giant Protection from Evil spell, if you will.
Also, dragonflies apparently horde hair, because they use strands of Kara’s technicolor dream hair to weave the dreamcatcher. (Personally, I think that’s kind of disgusting.) The party activates the dreamcatcher with their Sparkly Rocks, and the wraiths strengthen it when they leave.
The unicorn then shows up, and briefly tells Kara that she did a noble deed,
the wraiths will take the Sparkly Horn to a safe place, and that Kara is most definitely a Blazing Star. And then he vanishes. Kara’s all concerned that she lost her magic, but soon realizes that she still has some in her when she learns she can still talk to Lyra (who got better, by the way).
The new edition ends with Kara resolving to help the party and the refugees, even without the Sparkly Horn, because her magic can never be taken away. However, the original edition closes with the party wondering where the wraiths took the Sparkly Horn. They eventually conclude that it must be in Avalon, because (supposedly) the Sorceress can’t get there.
Kara loses Sparkly Horn +2!
Next time: Kara decides to upgrade everyone’s equipment, because she’s that kind of girl.
(Note to everyone following along with the original edition: this is Chapter 20.)
Kara and Lyra arrive
at a garden on an island populated by attractive, green-haired wraith chicks. I’m gonna spoil this right now, because we won’t see this place again until Trial by Fire: this is the Gates of Avalon, the very objective of the party’s quest. If this series was a role-playing video game, the Gates of Avalon would be the final dungeon, and the girls wouldn’t be able to leave the damn place until they killed the boss (or a marathon of bosses, because some games are mean like that). Of course, Kara is here too early, so a) she can’t even see the Gates, and b) even if she could see the gates, she’d probably be killed by whatever’s in there.
Anyway, the wraiths are all shocked because Kara
rode in on summoned the unicorn with her Sparkly Horn. They’re nice enough to tell Kara why her Sparkly Horn’s so damn special in the new edition: it’s the most powerful Sparkly Rock of all, which is why everyone wants it. Said Sparkly Rock also belongs to the green-haired hotties, and they want it back.
The wraiths then ask Kara if she can see the Gates. Kara can’t, because she doesn’t understand what magic is about (read: she’s too low a level). So how is she supposed to get to Avalon, then? Well, remember the Fairy Map that Phel tried to give the party in the last book? Yeah, that was supposed to guide Blazing Stars to Avalon. So, again … nice job ruining everything, Kara.
The wraiths are nice enough to let Kara leave with the Sparkly Horn, since she needs it to help her friends
and save the banshees, who are cursed wraiths. Kara and Lyra then materialize in Ravenswood, and are met by Adriane, Emily, Ozzie, and the refugees. Kara tries to help Emily heal Lyra while Adriane fends off a horde of banshees. Adriane has apparently been power-leveling again, because she can now create lassos with her Sparkly Rock. Unfortunately, her spells don’t have much effect on the banshees, who just keep on coming….
And then the portal opens.
Adriane learned … uh … some other variant of Create Weapon that I need a better name for. (Please send suggestions!)
EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition
- The wraiths’ robes aren’t made of gossamer.
- Kara attempts to see Avalon:
She struggled to see through the mist. Diamond light danced through the fog revealing the outline of an island. But the vision faded, no more than a mirage. She gazed across the empty waters in despair.
- The wraiths tell Kara that it’s her choice to take the Unicorn Jewel.
- Kara thinks that she passed out after returning to Ravenswood.
Next time: the inevitable Boss Battle!
A note before I continue: Chapter 18 in the new edition is a combination of Chapters 18 and 19 in the original. I’ll be using the new edition numbering in my post titles, so if you’re following along at home with the original edition, remember that you’re a chapter ahead.
Anyway … after a week of running around with technicolor dream hair, Kara goes to the salon at the mall to restore her natural hair color. Other than having rainbow hair, her week has been uneventful (read: no magical stuff happening).
Of course, shit hits the fan spectacularly.
It all starts with Kara encountering a water fairimental at the salon while her hair soaks. The conversation Kara has with it differs between editions, and the changes are so great I can’t do my usual cross-out-original-edition-text formatting. So here’s how it goes down in the new edition:
“Look, what do I do with this jewel?” Kara asked quickly. “I can’t make it work right.”
“Some things are yours only for a short time,” the watermental gurgled.
Oh no! Had Ozzie been right after all? Maybe she wasn’t the blazing star.
“Beware, the Dark Sorceress is coming…”
Kara shuddered. “Is Lyra in danger?”
“She wants you…”
“I don’t understand.” Kara bit her lip. “What does she want from me?”
In the original edition, Kara doesn’t ask about how to use her Sparkly Horn, and the Fairimentals are the ones who need Kara’s magic because they’re being threatened by the Sorceress. Oh, and Kara wonders if this is all a test of some sort.
The water fairimental dissipates, so Kara spends her time staring at the mirror before her. Weird, trippy stuff appears in it, including strands of the magic web and a majestic unicorn running along it. Only now in the new edition does Kara realize that her Sparkly Rock +2 is actually a Sparkly Horn — the unicorn’s horn is a similar shape.
And then the banshees come.
Kara’s not too great at escaping from battles. She runs out of the salon, but a mob of banshees surround her. And despite casting a quick Protection from Evil, Kara still gets burned by the hags. Luckily, Lyra somehow enters the mall and comes to Kara’s aid. (She also totals the food court and disrupts a food demonstration, but that’s not important.) So … crisis averted, right?
Nope. The mall cops come, and they attack Lyra because they think the leopard’s threatening Kara. Uh, how can they not tell that Lyra’s attacking the banshees, and not Kara? Besides, at this point, Kara’s run away to the other side of the mall….
The mall cops surround Lyra, and Kara’s clear across the mall on the third floor … so it looks like Lyra’s gonna have to jump!
(Kindly fast-forward to 4:24 if you don’t want to watch the entire thing.)
It looks like Lyra’s not going to make it (especially in the new edition, where it even states that she loses momentum halfway through the jump). But then wings burst out of her shoulders, and she makes it to Kara while the mall cops shoot at her. So … now reunited, Kara and Lyra can safely escape from the mall, right?
Uh, no. Lyra’s seriously wounded, so Kara follows the unicorn in the mirror (yeah, I kinda forgot to mention that it’s been following Kara all this time) to the emergency exit.
And then the Dark Sorceress appears.
Okay, she’s only called that at this point in the new edition — the original still says she’s some sort of inhuman animal-woman. But she materializes in a mirror before Kara and says, “Hey, I can’t call off the banshees — they’re the ones foretelling your doom
which is why they’re attacking you. But use that Sparkly Horn, and you can harness all the magic you need to kill them, and summon what I’m looking for!” Kara’s all like, “Hey bitch, you’re not getting Lyra!” but the Sorceress counters with “I don’t want no wounded astronomical leopard, I want that unicorn that’s been following you! Oh, and good luck saving your cat, it’s near death, mwahaha. It’s not like you need it.”
Then the Sorceress taps into the Sparkly Horn’s power, allowing it to totally consume Kara. Kara nearly blacks out … but then the unicorn somehow lends Kara its power and breaks the Sorceress’ spell. I guess that means it’s time for a Boss Battle!
Boss: Dark Sorceress (take one)
A half-human, half-animal creature determined to obtain the power of Avalon for herself. Oh, and she tortures animals, too.
Attacks: various telekinetic attacks, claw swipes, control of an opponent’s magic
The unicorn gives Kara enough power to cast Improved Magic Missile, which shatters all the mirrors, thus defeating the Sorceress … for now. That was quick and anticlimactic — I always thought this battle would be like the first half of the Phantom Ganon boss fight in Ocarina of Time (fast-forward to the 1:00 mark):
Finally safe, Kara and Lyra exit the mall. The unicorn meets them outside, and offers Kara and Lyra a ride to … somewhere.
Kara learned Improved Magic Missile!
Lyra learned how to fly!
EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition
- Kara walks by a different selection of stores. She still walks by Hot Topic and The Gap; but she passes Forever 21 and H&M instead of Eddie Bauer, Foot Locker, and Sharper Image.
- The Fairimentals call Kara “blazing star” instead of “web runner”.
- Kara asks one final question to the Fairimentals before they vanish:
“Am I the blazing star?”
- Lyra doesn’t tell Kara “Now would be a good time to move” after she flies across the mall.
- The Dark Sorceress smiles at Kara when she tells her to use the Unicorn Jewel.
- The Dark Sorceress doesn’t reach through the mirror at Kara after she activates the Unicorn Jewel.
Next time: Kara finds the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
There’s a ton of differences between the old and new editions in this chapter. Most of it is Kara’s inner dialogue, but some of it falls under “infodump”.
Instead of going to her local computer guru or downloading a new antivirus program, Kara runs to Ravenswood Manor and meets up with the rest of the party. She shows them her laptop, but the scariest thing on it (according to Adriane) is her photoshopped Linny Lewis wallpaper. Kara then recounts everything that’s happened to her for the past 16 chapters, which I’m not going to bother recapping because I’ve been doing that for the past few weeks.
When Kara mentions the banshees, the party decides to look them up on their fancy new magitek computer. The entry on banshees confirms that, yes, the ones that are following Kara are irradiated. They took Kara’s sweater because they “foretell dark magic and the fate of those who are touched by evil” by washing articles of clothing belonging to a tainted person. The books also give two different origins for banshees: the original edition says they’re “phantasms, always female, usually tied to water magic” (which explains why they appear in water), while the new edition says they’re “creatures of fairy that have been cursed”.
The party then wonders how the banshees got radiation poisoning. The refugees explain that the banshees came from the Shadowlands, which used to be a beautiful forest before the Dark Sorceress destroyed it. (In the original edition, the Sorceress isn’t responsible for the Shadowlands’ creation; all the refugees say about the Shadowlands is that it’s “a place where magic has gone horribly wrong, destroying everything around it.”)
The conversation then turns to why the Sorceress is stealing magic from magical animals. Magic only works properly if a mage works with an animal, so….
“Trying to force animals to make magic,” Ozzie grimaced. “It’s a complete perversion of the magic. Horrible!”
“But we know our magic is stronger with our animal friends,” Emily reasoned.
“And the legends that say humans and animals once worked together to make strong magic,” Balthazar agreed.
“Well, now the animals have defenders to protect them!” Adriane punched her fist into her palm for emphasis.
“That’s right!” Ozzie sprang to his feet. “Let’s go!”
“Ozzie.” Emily caught his tale [sic] and pulled the agitated ferret back. “We don’t know what we’re up against yet.”
Hmm, so working with an animal friend is a good thing, but ordering a magical animal to make you do magic is a bad thing. (But that latter method is how warlocks cast spells, and as we’ll eventually see in Warlock Diaries, most warlocks aren’t bad people. They just do magic differently.)
Of course, Kara realizes that she’s just like one of the magical animals: having her in the party amplifies everyone’s spells. And she notices that the creepy reflection lady is only after her and the Sparkly Horn. Which leads to this in the new edition:
“Kara, don’t you think there’s something odd about your jewel?” Emily asked.
“What do you mean?”
“What did it look like when you first found it?” Adriane asked Kara.
“Just like this.” Kara held out the dazzling gem.
“Ours changed as we used them, as if they became tuned to us.”
“That would make sense,” Ozzie added. “Magic jewels are tuned to a specific person. Only they can use it.”
“Well, mine got here all powerful and ready to go. So what?”
Okay, so Sparkly Rocks change shape depending on who uses them, and when they do morph, they’re attuned to their user, and nobody else can use them. Yet oddly enough, there are cases later in the series where Sparkly Rocks are passed from one user to another (here be spoilers): Kara’s was once used by one of her distant ancestors, and Sierra (a minor character who features briefly in Song of the Unicorns and “Legend of the LAOA”) has a stone given to her by her grandfather. So Sparkly Rocks can be used by mages other than those they are originally tuned to….
All right, logistics rant over.
Anyway, the party concludes that a) the Sparkly Horn is probably a test for Kara, and b) they have no idea what the hell a Blazing Star is. Kara is determined to fill that role in the party, though (she gets a lengthy inner monologue on the subject in the new edition) — but she’s had enough of this crazy shit, so she goes home.
An aside: I’m going to need to make a post on all the different mage types and magic users. So far we’ve got warriors, healers, and blazing stars; and later we’ll run into dragon riders, dark mages, dual-classed mages, sorcerers, witches, wizards, warlocks, warlock mages, and arcanists … damn, that’s a long list. If I do make this post, expect it to be under the Encyclopedia tab.
EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition
- Ozzie’s line about forcing animals to make magic is removed.
Next time: Kara goes to the mall to do relatively normal things.