I'd like to give this book four stars, and if I rated it based only on how much I enjoyed it, I would. With this new fantasy Melanie Rawn shows she could still be a major talent in the field. She's created an unusual premise by combining myth and magic with the drama of a group story reminiscent of VH1's miniseries 'The Temptations.' Most of the characters she uses to show off her world are worth meeting, and the side characters in particular beg to be explored. She doesn't stand too much on a soapbox. It doesn't matter, either, if you haven't read her other work. _Touchstone_ stands or falls on its own.
Mostly it falls. Despite everything I just said, I can't give it more than a middling grade because *nothing happens in it*.
Cayden Silversun's driving goals are to find his theater troupe a glisker and make it to Trials, where they'll hopefully earn a place on one of the formal performing circuits. All of this is resolved one way or another by the novel's halfway point. After that, the story meanders around accomplishing precious little. The characters banter; the characters bicker; Mieka relieves himself out a window. Hints of future plotlines are given, but they're too vague for the reader to know for sure who the antagonists will be, much less what they're planning, and much, much less what Touchstone might have to do about it. Even in terms of setup it's hollow.
And while most readers would probably be interested in how the theater performances work, I never felt like I was sitting in the audience for one, or as though I stood in Cade's shoes onstage. The shows were glossed over, and describing them was not the rule. I'm still not sure of things like why a tregetour can't be his own glisker or what the difference is between Elf and Wizard magic, though it seems important. That's really quite unfortunate, as Mieka--the 'soul' of the group--is more than a bit of an obnoxious, whining, manipulative, entitled brat, and his amazing talent as a glisker is the main reason everyone puts up with him long enough to form friendships. But we don't see that talent. In fact, we see more of him screwing up than of his skill. It makes for a disconnect: the narrative pushes the point that Mieka is the key to Touchstone's success, but he's shown as a liability and his brilliance has to be taken on faith.
All the same, weirdly, I liked the book. I read for hours at a stretch without getting bored. I cared what happened to Cade, Jeska, Rafe, and Blye, even when it seemed like not much was happening at all. I'm very interested in how different mythical bloodlines mix and where the series is going to go with that. I'll look for the next entry in the series, even if Mieka is the focus again.
But I can't quite recommend _Touchstone_. A book should have a story to tell, and this one doesn't.