Fantasy/SF Book Reviews

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The Changeling War by Peter Garrison

Ace, April, 1999.
Trade Paperback, 340 pages.
ISBN: 0441005527.
Ordering information:

Cover of The Changeling War
by Peter Garrison Coexisting with the Earth we know is another world called the Castle -- a dark, strange place full of battling forces, witches, wizards and all manner of creatures. In our world, Brian Clark and Karen Eggleton have never quite fit in; they are Changelings from the world of the Castle, and someone is determined to assassinate them. Meanwhile, in the Castle, Aubric a human warrior from the House Green has been captured by the evil sorceress Karmille (daughter of the powerful Lord Grey). Escaping with the help of some mysterious telepathic light creatures, Aubric may have escaped one danger only to find himself in more danger from his rescuers. As the characters in both worlds meet adventures on their journeys, they are moving closer to finding out the truth about the two worlds and the roles they will play in the upcoming confrontation.

The Changeling War is the first in a trilogy which follows the adventures of several characters in both worlds and their eventual interaction. It's a complicated plot, with enough characters to people several novels, but somehow Garrison manages to hold it all together into an entertaining narrative. The next installment is definitely worth a look.

Child of the River by Paul J. McAuley

Eos, June 1999.
Paperback, 321 pages.
ISBN: 0380792966.
Ordering information:

Cover of Child of the River
by Paul J. McAuley The world of Confluence is an artificial construct created millennia ago by the Preservers, humans who built an exotic world with 10,000 different bloodlines all fashioned on animals altered into human-like form. Controlled by nanotechnology, the world is permeated with smart machines that are embedded in the DNA of the races, the air and the water of the world. But the Preservers are long gone (they fell into a black hole) and the Ancients of Days are also gone, a revolutionary group who preached overthrowing the tidy system of rules set up by the Preservers and enforced by the ever-present machines. One evening an infant is found in a boat on the great River cradled in the arms of a dead woman. The child doesn't look like any of the local bloodlines, but they assume his people are from upriver. Adopted by a local official, Yama grows up with a strange power; he can control the world's machines. When his father sends him off to the great city of Ys to learn how to be a clerk, Yama runs away from his guide, the Prefect Corin, (who he doesn't trust) and sets out to find the secrets surrounding his birth -- and his destiny.

Child of the River is the first book in a trilogy which chronicles the life of Yama, which takes place near the end of the fascinating world of Confluence. As Yama's origins are gradually revealed, the true nature of Confluence begin to be glimpsed by the reader -- and it's a fascinating paradigm. The genetically altered, animal/human fusion bloodlines make for some interesting reading -- and, of course, give rise to some thorny questions about what the Preservers were up to when they created this entirely artificial world. Author Paul J. McAuley, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, is in fine form with this complex and richly plotted story. The mythos of the world of Confluence is well-imagined and Yama is an engaging hero. This one will leave readers anxious for Part II.

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