Fantasy/SF Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, February 2000 Page Two of Two
Wind in the Stone by Andre NortonEos, November, 1999.
Hardcover, 280 pages.
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At the Place of Learning, the elders despair of the slow progress of the seemingly inept student-mage, Irasmus. But there is a lot more to Irasmus than meets the eye. He is thoroughly evil, and has systematically ransacked the libraries for evil spells to help him in his goals of domination of the lovely and ancient Forest and the nearby Valley where the humans dwell in peace. Irasmus leaves before his teachers discover that he is not quite as inept as they think, and with his conjured demon slaves he sets out to further his plans. Irasmus holes up in a Black Tower and manipulates a local girl's fate, ensuring that she will bear a child. The girl bears twins, and Irasmus takes the boy to be his apprentice. But the girl child makes it to the Forest, where she is raised by native Sasqua and the Wind, the powerful but so far silenced voice of this world. The girl, Felice, and the older and wiser mages from the Place of Learning must use all their powers to help the boy grow to be a man who will overcome the evil Irasmus, and allow the Wind once more to roam free on the world, keeping all good creatures in communication with one another.
The inimitable Andre Norton hasn't slowed down a bit over the years, (See, Scent of Magic, The Shadow of Albion etc.) and her stories get better and better. Wind in the Stone is a classic fantasy tale, with an imaginative setting, wonderful characters (especially the Sasqua) and a fast pace. Fantasy lovers will definitely want to add this one to their Norton collection.
Legends Walking by Jane LindskoldEos, Dec., 1999.
Paperback, 403 pages.
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The Athanor live among humans, but they are not really human at all. Immortal, possessed of special powers (some can shapeshift, for example), they exist quietly in our society, ruled by Arthur. Over the centuries, Arthur has been known as Gilgamesh, King Arthur and many other famous historical figures. A few humans know of the Athanor, and Arthur has two human assistants. Changer, perhaps the oldest of the lot, is the most talented shapeshifter, preferring to take the form of the wolf when possible. In Nigeria, a terrible plague of smallpox has broken out, and it may be that an Athanor is behind it. Changer agrees to help track down the source of the plague, but he also has problems with his daughter, Shahrazad, born a wolf but who is discovering her own, unique powers. Meanwhile, Arthur also has his hands full with the less-human Athanor -- the yeti, satyrs and the like-who want to come out of hiding and tell mankind of their existence. But modern day Earth is hardly ready for the appearance of creatures who have been consigned to the realm of mythology.
Legends Walking is the second novel of the Athanor, following Changer. Lindskold has the gift of creating her own intricate mythology, using portions of our own world and weaving them with her own imagination. This urban fantasy works quite well: the characters are captivating and blend quite well into modern-day society. Just when you think you have a Lindskold plot figured out, the author hits you with another plot twist, building the story in layer upon well-crafted layer. Lindskold is destined to be a star in the fantasy/sf world, so keep an eye out for her future efforts.
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