The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul
from the back of the book:
Tipper, a young emerlindian woman, has been responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate since her sculptor father disappeared several years ago. To make ends meet, she’s been forced to sell off the artwork he left behind. When at last her father returns, accompanied by two strangers from a distant land, Tipper discovers that her actions have unbalanced the foundation of her world and endangered her father’s life. She must act quickly to undo the threat. But how can she save her father and the world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions – including the giant parrot, Beccaroon, and the aristocratic tumanhofer, Bealomondore – and sets out on a quest, eventually witnessing the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder.
This was the first Paul book that I’d read and I think this one takes place in the same world as her Dragonkeeper Chronicles. I don’t think you have to have read them to follow the story but there are a few things that might have been explained that were assumed as already known in this book. She uses terms like emerlindian and tumanhofer, which are different races, but we are never told that. There is a glossary to help in moments like this but it would have been nice to have some sort of hint in the text. I like the word usage, like rapscallion, falderal, chicanery, obfuscate. Nothing that will make you run for the dictionary but words that you don’t hear much and makes it more interesting to read. The banter between the wizard and the librarian is fun, light and witty but also sounds real, like two old friends bickering. Lady Peg, who is a little addle minded, is also fun and done well so she does not go too far and become some absurd comic relief but remains an interesting, believable character. There is a Christian message running through the book and it is not subtle. There is a whole page that goes on about the consequences of lying, several proverbs are quoted in a row for no apparent reason, the gifts given by Wulder are listed, and several times it is mentioned that a character knew there was some power behind everything but he didn’t know what, among other things. But as blatant as the message is it is never really explained exactly who Wulder is or who the paladin is or why he is important and that made me wonder if I missed something by not reading the other Paul books first. Despite a few minor places where I felt I was catching up to a story already in progress I thought it was an enjoyable book. There are a lot of interesting well drawn characters that are fun to follow on their exciting quest. I found myself so engaged in the story that I lost track of time while I was reading it. I liked these people and would be glad to follow them on another adventure.