TITLE: The Goblin Mirror
AUTHOR: C.J. Cherryh
" To the princes of Maggiar, over-mountain was a land they knew only from gran's stories; few people in their little kingdom had ever ventured so far from their valley. But now the wizard Karoly announced that he must make the journey there to seek advice from his witch-sister. For things hadn't been right in Maggiar this last season, not right at all... The princes Tamas and Bogdan were to go with Karoly, along with the huntsman Nikolai. Yuri, the youngest prince, chafed at being left behind. So when Tamas' dog chased after his master, Yuri followed. Soon the young prince had traveled far enough into the woods to wonder if he might not catch up with his brothers after all. His brothers had worries of their own. No sooner were they over-mountain, than their party was ambushed and scattered. The kingdoms they had come to find had all been ravaged. The goblins had declared war. Tamas, separated from the rest, fell in with Ela, a witch's apprentice. He found himself caught up in a battle of magic. For Ela held a shard broken off the goblin queen's mirror, a mere fragment that could wield a magic so strong and unpredictable that no other witch dared touch it. With this single sliver of magic, Ela planned to challenge the goblin queen herself... "
Not the best fantasy novel C.J. Cherryh has ever written, but still one of the best novels I've read in a while. The writing is beautiful and atmospheric. This novel has a Russian flavour making it a bit more exotic. The characters (including the non-human ones) all have distinct personalities. The plot is a bit simplistic but the wonderful writing makes up for it. Not to mention Azdra'ik, the Goblin. She could have written a whole novel about this guy.