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Touchstone (Glass Thorns #1)

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  635 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
Cayden Silversun is part Elven, part Fae, part human Wizard—and all rebel. His aristocratic mother would have him follow his father to the Royal Court, to make a high society living off the scraps of kings.But Cade lives and breathes for the theater, and he’s good—very, very good.With his company, he’ll enter the highest reaches of society and power, as an honored artist—o ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Tor Books
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Cold Days by Jim ButcherThe Blinding Knife by Brent WeeksThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussTricked by Kevin HearneA Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison
Adult Fantasy & Sci-Fi 2012
154th out of 432 books — 860 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienPeter and the Elven Songs by T.J. DixonPeter and the Kuroneko by T.J. DixonEragon by Christopher PaoliniThe Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
Books With Elves -- NOT Faeries
133rd out of 155 books — 89 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,911)
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Feb 05, 2012 Keri marked it as to-read
I'd love to read it, but I'm afraid she won't finish it after the Exiles fiasco.
Jun 20, 2012 Tracy rated it really liked it

I've been a fan of Rawn's for a long time. As in 'I've been waiting for the third Exiles book as long as anybody' type fanboy. And this is Rawn's returning to High Fantasy, which is where she belongs.
And yet....
While Touchstone is engaging, and it's a return to the 'art as magic' trope she and Kate Elliot and Jennifer Roberson used so well in 'Golden Key', and there are true moments that are refreshing and fascinating and great....
And yet.....
It has a very throwback 90s feel to it, and I'm no
Nov 15, 2014 Jon rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
First off, I'm a biased reader. I absolutely love Ms. Rawn's Exiles series and I am hoping for the decade-and-a-half wait for The Captal's Tower to be over with at some point in the forseeable future. That being said...

I don't know that this series will stand up to the test of time. My first impression is one of mild disappointment, because the book is a lot of 'they went here and did this, and went there and did that' but lacks a lot of 'this is how they did it'. I don't know if that makes any
Jan 16, 2012 Karissa rated it it was ok
This book is the first in a new series by Rawn called the Glass Thorns. I loved Rawn's Dragon Prince series and was excited to see what she's been up to all these years. Well I was sorely disappointed. I read the first 120 pages of this book and finally just gave up. The beginning is confusing and there is no real goal driving the plot forward.

Cayden Silversun is trying to put together a troupe of players that will rise to the top and eventually end up on the Royal play circuit. He ends up bring
Amanda R
Dec 06, 2012 Amanda R rated it did not like it
Started off boring and stayed boring for the next thirty pages, at which point I gave up. There was not a single likable character, very little attempt at explaining the workings of this magical theater troupe, and nary a plot in sight. And because Melanie Rawn was my very favorite author once upon a time, and because her first three trilogies changed my life, I prefer to remember her writing as it was rather than spoil it with the way she writes now. Sad, but true.
Mar 24, 2012 Leah rated it did not like it
This book was the worst one I've read in a long time. The story opens with a giant info dump, it's basically like getting a history lesson of the town/theater culture from a professor who assumes you already know all the info so he doesn't need to be clear about it. From there, the story moves at a snail's pace without anything very interesting or unexpected happening. I can't believe this is the same author who wrote some of my favorite books because this one was painful to read, incredibly slo ...more
Melissa Ann
Oct 01, 2015 Melissa Ann rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, really makes you want to read more.
Brandon Zarzyczny
Aug 08, 2012 Brandon Zarzyczny rated it it was amazing
I'm of two minds with this book, on one hand there is absolutely no conflict and no resolution, but on the other hand I absolutely loved the book and the characters. Truthfully, once I finished the book I couldn't stop thinking about what was going to happen next, and I really just want to go back to the world/characters that Melanie Rawn created. However I think that's almost part of the problem, where since nothing really happened I didn't have any sort of ending to the story (Something that I ...more
Rich Stoehr
Mar 11, 2012 Rich Stoehr rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
'Touchstone' is a book with a lot of potential. A rich and inventive world, a cast of interesting and well-drawn characters, an original concept to weave magic into the words...the only missing ingredient is a crucial one. 'Touchstone' is a novel missing a story.

In 'Touchstone,' Melanie Rawn crafts a world where magic is used for entertainment, where four men combine their talents to create works of wonder for their audience. Women are not allowed to participate or even watch the performances, a
Text Addict
Apr 11, 2012 Text Addict rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy

Rawn (who has been around for quite a while, yes I know) writes beautifully. I have no complaints at all about that aspect of the book.


The characters here are lively, interesting - and rather dramatic, as befits a group of traveling players. Even the two players that are obvious "types" are well-drawn enough to not detract from things. The secondary characters also show some economizing in places (the Prince wh
Dec 11, 2013 Jennavier rated it it was ok
Touchstone tells the story of the traveling theater-ish group of the same name. They get together and go through some trials but mostly successes. The main action is between group founder Cayden and group newbie Meika. Cayden likes order and Meika is crazy, but Meika's talent is the one thing really taking Touchstone to the next level. Cayden can also see the future so he's constantly trying to change the things he sees in his dreams.
If that synopsis seems confusing it's because the novel is co
Sep 09, 2013 Jbarth rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I love Melanie Rawn's works - always have. She was one of the first female fantasy writers I found, and she hooked me in with word one. I thought I had read everything of hers, so I was VERY happily surprised to stumble upon the Touchstone series. I ordered it, and eagerly started reading it the second it arrived.

Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed by book's end. Don't get me wrong - it was very well written, and the idea of the various races intermingling blood lines with no two people h
Nov 01, 2013 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Cayden has enough wizarding power to do anything he wants in life, but his only love is the theater. After his troupe finally finds the perfect fourth member of their group--the rambunctious Meika, who is as sweet as he is wild--they're finally ready to take on the world. Despite rivalries, intra-group conflicts, and drug problems, they rapidly gain renown as innovators and artists. But Cayden has one more gift that he keeps secret: he dreams possible futures. Some he is able to avert, others he ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Jo rated it did not like it
I like Melanie Rawn quite a bit and got this as soon as I saw she had a new book out. I hate to say it but I was truly disappointed. I almost didn't finish it. The book starts out well, with an interesting premise but lost me about 1/2 of the way in when it got glacially slow. The main characters aren't particularly likable. There's some growth but not much and for what purpose? I never really figured that out. But I persevered to the end because it was written by Melanie Rawn and she's good; I ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Shelves: fun
I'm agreeing with all the other 2 star & lower reviews. Clunky writing & not much in the plot. It also comes off as racist with Mieka's uncle and the ear mutilation. Rawn also seems to be trying to ape Trudi Canavan with the homosocial implications between Cade & Mieka and Cade & Kearney. It might have been interesting and believable of the characters had been younger and if the idea was pursued and developed. I didn't find the vocab too perplexing, but Rawn should explore the lo ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Sam rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-books
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I was in the mood for an old-school fantasy novel and while it fit the bill, I was mostly bored. Melanie Rawn is a wonderful writer and it shows, but I felt a huge disconnect between me and the adventure and the cast of characters as well. I didn't like Cade as a main character, he was just someone you couldn't sympathize with. The amount of fantasy cliches and unoriginal plot just didn't keep me engaged the way I was hoping. I don't think I'll be read ...more
Oct 29, 2015 Steve added it
Shelves: bookreporter
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Melanie Rawn scored a bestselling success with her Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies. Between 1994 and 1997, she would release two books in her Exiles series and a joint venture with Kate Elliott and Jennifer Roberson. Then she simply vanished. Fans were left wondering where the conclusion of Exiles was (and they're still waiting eagerly). It would be almost a full decade before Melanie returned, but SPELLBINDER was not the epic fantasy of her previous outi ...more
Jeffrey Grant
Sep 03, 2014 Jeffrey Grant rated it it was ok
I’ve often mentioned that many sci-fi and fantasy books are familiar stories given a wrapping appropriate to the theme, i.e. a murder mystery that happens to be on a space station, or a political drama that takes place between barons and earls rather than senators and representatives. I’ll leave it to the literature doctoral elite to figure out how to classify a murder mystery set in modern Britain that happens to involve time travelling vampires (though based on Dr. Who that would likely end up ...more
Jun 28, 2014 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad, but disappointing nevertheless. The characters are mildly engaging, but not quite enough to shoulder the burden of making the book interesting, and that is a burden they bear. The plot is threadbare, being more a slice-of-life story than anything else, as the theatre troupe's rise to success is presented with so few challenges as to not really constitute a dramatic storyline. The few elements with any suspense are only mildly so and are strewn about with little attention given to them. ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Colin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk-food-lit
A difficult book for me to classify - it's fantasy, for sure, but an odd type of fantasy. The story focuses on a troupe of performers who come to be known as Touchstone in a world in which theater is a magic-intensive art - magic is used to produce special effects and to enchant the audience lightly with emotions and feelings (the job of the "glisker"). The world is not medieval, but perhaps late Renaissance, around the time of the Age of Exploration (an equivalent is underway in the world of t ...more
Brittany Brenner
Sep 06, 2014 Brittany Brenner rated it did not like it
I really wanted to put this book down at the beginning. I'm somewhat glad I did not, but only mildly. The characters are interesting and the writing is decent, but the plot goes essentially nowhere - there's a lot of "they traveled over there and did this. Then they traveled over there and did that." As there is very little plot, there is very little resolution, and while there is still an intriguing question left unanswered for the next book(s), it's simply not enough to get me to invest severa ...more
It's impossible to overstate how much Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books meant to me. Which makes me a little afraid to review this book. I'm hoping I missed something. Magic is used for art rather than as a weapon, and therefore there's no killing, which I loved. But the four somewhat shallow boys we follow through the story don't seem anything like the magnificent characters Rawn has written in the past. This is supposed to be a diverse world, which is what I look for. And yet (among other things) ...more
William Bentrim
May 22, 2014 William Bentrim rated it really liked it
Touchstone is a behind the scenes look at theatrical production powered not by animation but magic. Touchstone is a theatre group struggling for success and identity.

Ms. Rawn has done a masterful job in presenting an eclectic cast of characters. She provides insights to their personalities and how they became the people they are. Allusions to societal ills such as discrimination, poverty, perversion are made without being done with a heavy hand.

Blye is a perfect illustration of the "glass" cei
Jan 05, 2015 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, dramatics
I loved Rawn's books as a teen, and the premise of Glass Thorns -- rival theatre troupes using (morally-ambiguous-and-subject-to-legal-and-social-controls) magic to directly shape audience emotional responses get swept up in deadly political machinations through court patronage -- was right up my street, but it felt a little underworked and thin. I'm fairly hopeful that what felt at times like a welter of detail (and I LIKE the kind of detailed worldbuilding that manifests as a paragraph on the ...more
Nov 20, 2015 Heather rated it liked it
I read this because I am a Melanie Rawn fan. It is certainly different from her other books. There are no grand magical battles and no (at least not yet) political machinations. The plot was a little bit slow to develop and ends rather abruptly. Unlike her volumes Dragon Prince and Ruins of Ambrai, which could stand alone outside of being first novels in a trilogy, Touchstone is definitely an Act 1.

While I didn't find this novel as exciting as some of her other books, it was still a fun read th
Karyn Silverman
May 10, 2012 Karyn Silverman marked it as dnf-2012
Shelves: vw, specfic
Hot mess. And really strange sexual sub and not so sub text. That made no sense. And was occasionally icky. Blerg.
Amanda Meggs
Nov 01, 2015 Amanda Meggs rated it really liked it
A very interesting and unusual concept with non-standard characters. It took me much longer to read than usual and I'm not sure why. I had to keep having a break from it, but definitely not that the book wasn't holding my attention, I think that as the series is developed it will follow a different course from this novel. Mieka is a very likable elf and an amusing fellow. Cade is very deep and sometimes a bit depressing as his character seems unable to enjoy his good fortune for long. All the ot ...more
Jul 08, 2014 Whitney rated it it was ok
This is basically a fantasy world version of a rock band making it big, going on tour, doing drugs, getting in fights, etc. Instead of a band though, they are a troupe that performs plays using magic by virtue of their Wizard, Elven, or even Goblin, bloodlines. Instead of heroin, there is a potion called blackthorn, and instead of a tour bus there is a carriage. Making this connection made the story more predictable, and less magical for me. Not nearly as good as Exiles, but then again, nothing ...more
Guy Haley
Dec 01, 2015 Guy Haley rated it liked it
Another book review, this one from SFX #230.


Author: Melanie Rawn

Publisher: Titan Books

431 pages

Full marks for originality to this first book in the Touchstone series, which deals with the efforts of a theatre troupe to become the next big thing on the theatre circuit.

Rawn’s fantasy troupe is imaginatively constructed, comprising a tregetour (a writer who charges the troupe’s magic doodads pre-show) a masker (the only actor) a glisker (who channels the tregetour’s magic) and
Aug 15, 2014 Andrea rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I have to be upfront, from 50% to the end I simply skimmed to the end.

It's tough when you fall out of love with an author you have loved for so many years. Melanie Rawn was one of my heroes of the 90s. Her books had everything that I love about fantasy: political intrigue, interesting magic systems, cool world-building and a variety of interesting characters. I highly recommend the Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies. And ugh, the quality of her Exiles books. She only wrote two books and th
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Melanie Rawn received a BA in history from Scripps College and worked as a teacher and editor before becoming a writer.

She has been nominated for a Locus award on three separate occasions: in 1989 for Dragon Prince (in the first novel category), in 1994 for Skybowl (in the fantasy novel category), and again in 1995 for Ruins of Ambrai (in the fantasy novel category).

More about Melanie Rawn...

Other Books in the Series

Glass Thorns (5 books)
  • Elsewhens (Glass Thorns, #2)
  • Thornlost  (Glass Thorns, #3)
  • Window Wall (Glass Thorns, #4)
  • Dragon Prince (Dragon Prince, #1)

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