One of the main characteristics of a strong fantasy novel is a well thought out world. Sisters of the Raven, by Barbara Hambly, starts with many fine ideas, but fails to draw them together to create a cohesive and understandable fantasy world. The setting is arabesque, a desert kingdom desperately waiting the rains usually brought in by the magic of the city's wizards. However, the wizards are losing their powers, and for the first time, women are beginning to develop the powers that only men had. Over this a murder mystery is thrown. But this wasn't a murder mystery, with an intrepid snoop and a slew of interesting witnesses and possible culprits. In fact, the murder mystery seemed vague and slapdash, as if it was incidental to the plot. The characters would have been more at home in a romance novel, and at the end, I couldn't be sure that what I'd just read wasn't a romance novel. I checked the cover for Fabio, but he wasn't on there. Still, I have to say that the characters seemed awful flat. Even the characters that were given interesting positions and interesting internal conflicts didn't seem to move much. There were no real revelations or highly emotional scenes, and I had trouble connecting with nearly all of the characters, from the fat monarch with the heart of gold, or the beautiful and powerful harem girls. The most interesting character is certainly Raeshaldis, the first woman to enter the college of the mages. However, the early trials of her life at the college seem to be forgotten when she goes on a magical voyage that doesn't really resolve her character at all. Granted, it marginally resolves a part of the plot, but it doesn't seem to really to advance the character. So, while Hambly uses a set of ideas that I think have great promise, the delivery could have been smoother, especially with characterization.