The fantasy genre has its baggage -- Renaissance fairs, role-playing games, Christopher Lambert. So credit Fallon for exploring themes like dirty politics and religious tolerance for the launch of her Hythrun Chronicles series, a best-seller in her native Australia. As a shrewish mother schemes her way into leading the Sisterhood, an atheistic matriarchy that rules the country of Medalon, her soldier son and feisty teen daughter flee, vowing to take down the evil empire. But the girl turns out to be an orphan descended from a magical race close to extinction, and the not-quite siblings' quest twists into an intriguing soap opera of espionage and family revelations. Not so intriguing: the sister-brother romance that ignites after they learn they're not technically related. Ewwww.