Spellkey Trilogy

Three novels that appeared from Simon & Schuster between 1987 and 1993 and were collected, with revisions, by Baen in an omnibus paperback in 1995.

The Spellkey (1987)

“A complicated, convoluted fantasy containing most of the elements common to high fantasy–the overthrow of an evil figure, a journey fraught with danger and difficulty, magic in various forms, and appealing protagonists . . . The narrative is told from constantly shifting points of view, which gives the impression of a story seen through moving water. The reader always has an uneasy feeling that another story exists just beneath this one. The denouement separates the two protagonists, with Caitlin going to Chameol to become a seer and the Badger becoming a knight vowed to celibacy, leaving many questions unanswered and much to be resolved. The author, who began the book when she was thirteen, has an unusual style, a fiendish command of plot, and a fine, fresh imagination.” —A. A. F., The Horn Book

The Glass Salamander (1989)
“In the sequel to The Spellkey, Caitlin is training as a seer on the isle of Chameol, where she gives birth to the Badger’s son, who is stolen away to the subterranean Otherworld, while a goblin baby is left in his place. Believing the exchange bears the mark of the evil necromancer, Myrrhlock, the distraught Caitlin follows the trail underground. Making her way with the help of her glass salamander (a seer’s glass), she must pass three demanding guardians and confront her own darkest fears and memories. Meanwhile, the Badger, who is trying to forget his love for Caitlin since they may never be together, is also tracking Myrrhlock in an investigation of a plague of strange lunacies, mysterious disappearances, and grisly deaths. The lovers’ paths finally come together for the final battle with the necromancer. With more depth, complexity, and sophistication in both plot and characterization than its predecessor, this compelling novel resembles the making of a tapestry in which the separate tales of Caitlin and the Badger, as well as those of assorted other characters whose roles are important to the outcome, are interwoven to create an effective finished piece.”

—Sally Estes, Booklist

The Books of the Keepers (1993)

My personal favorite of my fantasy novels.

“The many stories meet, separate, and join to form new stories, by turns menacing, poignant, funny, familiar, and strange. Downer’s skill in building a wholly believable world that she unveils bit by bit is undiminished. There’s not the dominant major plot found in the earlier books, but that hardly lessens the pleasure of exploring a world where the suspension of disbelief comes so easily.”

Kirkus Reviews