Point of Dreams
by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett
Tor, 2001, ISBN 0-312-86782-4
This is a sequel to Point of Hopes. Basically, this is a mystery series; it just happens to be set in a fantasy world with an interesting cosmology and magic system. Just as the real test of whether you’re likely to enjoy Hammerfall is whether you enjoy Cherryh’s fantasy, not her sf, I think the real test of whether you’re likely to enjoy this book is whether you enjoy mystery series, not whether you enjoy fantasy series.
Astreiant is the capital city of a land with a roughly 17th century level of technology, with the difference that magic and divination work, with interesting effects on the culture. Somewhat earlier than in our world, the inhabitants are inventing policemen–called pointsmen–to investigate crimes and arrest malefactors. This is still a new idea, and the pointsmen, especially the Chief and Adjunct Points who have to deal with aristocracy unaccustomed to the idea that anyone other than the Queen can question their actions, have problems because of it.
Adjunct Point Nicholas Rathe, recently transferred from Point of Hopes to Point of Dreams, is handed a murder investigation which is potentially politically explosive, and has another murder in vestigation snatched away from him and handed to a younger but well-connected pointsman of whose abilities he entertains serious doubts. Meanwhile, his lover, Philip Eslingen, has lost his former position and found another, as the newest member of the Masters of the Guild of Defense, who provide all military and/or fighting performances in Astreiant’s theaters. Life is further enlivened by the fact that this is the Ghost Tide, the time of year when even the normally quiet dead return to visit their living friends and family. None of these things, naturally, remains unrelated to the others.