The Auraseers in Burning Glass don't see auras, they feel what other people feel as if the emotions were their own. At least some of the time. Then there's scenes where Sonya pushes auras around like soap bubbles or somehow feels them inside her; those passages sound like they come from an esoteric manual. Sonya's gift seems unstable and unpredictable at best. Or rather it seems to adapt: It always does what you need it to do.
The emperors of Riaznin have an Auraseer as their bodyguard to warn them of any bad feelings in their court. The other Auraseers are locked away in a convent with an iron gate, some nuns, an old caretaker and no guards. Has no girl ever tried to run away? Has no count or baron ever tried to kidnap an Auraseer for themselves? Guards would, of course, make the opening scene impossible. Somebody would release the girls from the east wing after Sonya locked them in. Somebody would keep Sonya from running to the gate and finding the madman in the snow. The convent's gate must be extraordinary if it has withstood the onslaught of not only one peasant horde but several over the last winters. And the peasants never seem to get a hammer from the village smithy before they gather the pitchforks and march on the convent. The madman is another mystery. Why didn't the wolves notice him?
Eventually the opening scene is over and Prince Anton takes Sonya away to his brother's court. A plot ensues. It's interesting enough to keep me reading, but not dense nor fast enough to keep me from asking questions like: What happened to all the Auraseers born between Izolda (past fourty years old) and Nadia (nineteen)? Auraseers are rare, but there's more than twenty of them at the convent, all younger than Nadia. There must be at least a few between her and Izolda.
Has a single book ever sparked a revolution? And among peasants who can't read nor write?
Another question: How short-sighted and paranoid was Emperor Izia to think up that changeling ploy? He protected his older son but deprived him of any chance to play with the noble boys of his age, to form friendships and loyalties, to find out who was reliable and who would cheat at games... Invaluable knowledge for an emperor. And didn't Izia notice that he was begging for a war of succession?
At least two people have learned how to control their feelings and shut an Auraseer out: Lenka because she's been an Auraseer's maid for years, and Anton because - because of plot. But has no one else learned the trick? Wouldn't guarding one's emotions against an Auraseer be part of every young noble's education at least in Estengard?
After reading the last page, I have two more questions, Mrs. Purdie. The first: Where's the Burning Glass? No glass anywhere in the book except for drinking, and no serious fire after the opening at the convent. If it's a metaphor, it's a far-fetched one. But more important: Seriously? That's supposed to be the ending?
Maybe some of these questions find their answer in the next volumes. But I'm not going to read them.
Christina Widmann de Fran