Reviews. Being thusly a slow De-newsweek, I present to you some reviews:
The Riddle-Master of Hed series, by Patricia McKillip.
Door Number Three, by Patrick O’Brien
Golden Witchbreed, by Mary Gentle
Wizard’s First Rule, by Terry Goodkind
The Riddle-Master of Hed Series.
I’m trying to catch up on some classic fantasy. Maybe I’m just in a mood to be snarky, because I certainly gobbled this series up in two days, but if this is classic fantasy, I’m done with classic fantasy. It wasn’t bad. It makes Robert Jordan seem just as pointlessly overdescriptive as he is. It’s fast. Plot twists galore. –But to what point? The best fantasy in the epic mode, like Tolkein’s Middle-Earth or (don’t care, Doyce) Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, has a point. The world has changed, but it could have been much, much worse. The things you place your hopes in sometimes cause you to become something you hate. Don’t litter. Things like that. So what’s the point of this book? For those who don’t need a point–or those who don’t need a point this time–these are pretty decent jellybeans.
Door Number Three
If psychoanalysis bothers you, don’t read this book. If reading a first novel bothers you, don’t read this book. If you like to read the way a writer arranges words on a page, ah, then. Read this book. The main premise–the narrator becomes unstuck in time, flashing through his memories, possibly able to change them–only comes into play for a few chapters. Other plot elements are similarly underused–the aliens, the end of the world, the fractal biology leading to square nipples. But.
Is this fantasy or sci fi? If you use a spaceship to get to a fantasy world, what does that make it? And if the fantasy world is a post-holocaust culture? You want to say sci fi, you really do, but you can’t. It feels like a fantasy…where have I had this feeling before? Oh, yeah! Marion Zimmer Bradley! –People gave all sorts of blurbs comparing this to Ursula K. LeGuin, but I can’t stand her stuff, so screw that. This a novel (and, I guess, a series?) that Darkover fans may like–not as melodramatic, emotionally, but just as satisfying.
Wizard’s First Rule
The first rule goes like this: People are stupid. Weird book. For the first four hundred pages or so, it fit pretty much all of my preconceptions of a cheesy fantasy novel. Then everything changes. It’s like the writer hit a point where he had nothing else planned, or for some reason couldn’t continue in the direction he thought he was going. The writing is on an average to slightly better than average level, but I’d recommend this book to a lot of people who don’t read fantasies like they were crack based on that last hundred and fifty pages or so: something out of his subconscious took over, and the book takes life in a way that most of the crap out there never will. Suddenly, cheesy fantasy turns into a good Stephen King fantasy, deep, archetypal, and leaving nobody whole. Well, I liked it. I don’t know if I’ll race out and get the rest of the series (I’m afraid he’ll go back to planning mode), but I’ll be hoping for those moments of spontaneous inspiration, so I’ll probably read the rest of them eventually.