Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett

A host of missing children prompts an investigation led by Adjunct Pointsman Rathe, in a world reminiscent of 17th Century Europe where astrology is the governing religion and worldview.

Point of Hopes was a refreshing change of pace from the fantasy I’ve been reading lately. Instead of an epic tale spanning the whole of the human experience in the midst of catastrophic upheaval, Point of Hopes is a simple police procedural set among the ordinary middle class. Within the genre, it’s a fairly small story, and that’s what I liked about it.

Rathe is an Adjunct Pointsman, or a sort-of policeman assigned to the Point of Hopes, and a spate of disappearances of children who seem to have very little in common has him stymied. As his investigation unfolds, co-authors Scott and Barnett reveal a workaday world of people forging their lives in ordinary times. Nobody has a special destiny; there are no urchins who could be king; there is no war. The magic here is that everyone uses astrology, and the stars do seem to have authority over them, though there is still plenty of free will to go around. This fantastical element is gradually introduced and treated almost as though it were a true historical reconstruction. It’s just the way things were back then, nothing special.

Point of Hopes is out of print but it looks like there are a lot of used copies available on Amazon. Though set in a totally different time period, the book evoked for me the same things that steampunk does. Maybe call it mercantilepunk?

One thought on “Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett”

  1. Point of Hopes is a very good read. I think there is a sequel out.

    Similar in the premise – a mundane, pre-gunpowder police station in a rough neighborhood, is Tamora Pierce’s Bekka Cooper: Terrier. (I think a sequel is due out soon.) Terrier is more young-adult, with a new 16 year old recruit class. Point of Hopes and Terrier share a similar level of technology, with Terrier using more formal magic users – from barely competent and corrupt to the gossipy mage that checks gems for the gem market to detect fakes. Both stories are delightful.

    Thanks for reviewing Point of Hopes! I will have to re-read it again soon!

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