Fire in the Mist
Holly Lisle, 1992
Note: this book is FREE for download. See below...
Premise: Faia's mother tells her she should learn to use her gift, that she needs to decide what she will do with her life. Faia just wants to continue to be a shepherd. But when tragedy strikes, Faia's gift for magic will manifest in a new way, and she'll be thrust into the power struggles of a city not her home.
It had such a great tone, too. A predominance of complex, fabulous women live at the mage-school Faia comes to. The conflicts between the female and male mages bewilder Faia, and she tries to think well of others, all while defending herself from their assumptions about an untrained hill-girl. She's a wonderful character, just flawed enough, just well-meaning enough, just vulnerable enough.
I also really enjoyed her city-fied roommate, her 'barbarian' teacher Medwing... it's just a really fun cast of characters. The twists of the plot feel right, and the settings are interesting. Also there are giant otters.
Overall, a solid, highly enjoyable fantasy.
4 Stars - A Really Good Book
Download Fire in the Mist for FREE from the Baen Free Library.
One side note: The Kindle - compatible file I got from the website was missing some section breaks, so it was occasionally difficult to spot scene changes. But it was FREE, so I'm not docking points for that.