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Flight in Yiktor: Introduces a compelling new protagonist

Flight in Yiktor by Andre Norton

Flight in Yiktor (1986) is the third novel in Andre Norton’s MOONSINGER series. It’s bundled with the fourth novel, Dare to Go A-Hunting, in an omnibus edition titled Moonsinger’s Quest which was published by Baen in 2013 and, in audio format, by Tantor Media in 2021. It’s not necessary to read the first two novels, Moon of Three Rings and Exiles of the Stars, which you can find in the Moonsinger omnibus, also published by Baen and Tantor, but it would be helpful. I’m enjoying Tantor’s audiobook editi... Read More

The Lazarus Effect: Readable but not memorable

The Lazarus Effect by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom

The Lazarus Effect (1983) is part of the PANDORA SEQUENCE that Frank Herbert wrote with Bill Ransom. The series has its origin in Herbert's 1966 novel Destination: Void, of which he published a revised edition in 1978, prior to the release of The Jesus Incident (1979), his first collaboration with Ransom. The Jesus Incident was rough around the edges, mostly because a copyright issue came up that required lots of last-minute rewriting. The Lazarus Effect was written in a less frantic fashion but, interesting enough, The Jesus Incident turned out better.

The sent... Read More

The Scarlet Fig: or, Slowly through a Land of Stone: Will have limited appeal

The Scarlet Fig: or, Slowly through a Land of Stone by Avram Davidson

I loved The Phoenix and the Mirror, the first book in Avram Davidson’s trilogy about the mage Vergil in ancient Rome, but the two sequels are disappointing. The first sequel, Vergil in Averno, is a travelogue of Vergil’s visit to Averno, a place that ancient Romans thought might be the gate to Hell. (It’s not nearly as interesting as that might suggest, though.) It had little plot, but at least it displayed Avram Davidson’s amusing sense of humor.

This second sequel, The Scarlet Fig, has even less plot. The story starts as Vergil encounters a condemned man who is pardoned by a Vestal Virgin on his way to be executed. Something happens to the Vestal Virgin’s carriage and in his attempt to keep her from falling, Vergil accidentally touches her arm. Vergil’s intentions were ho... Read More

Merlin’s Ring: Historical fantasy with a strong dose of romance and optimism

Merlin’s Ring by H. Warner Munn

H. Warner Munn’s Merlin’s Ring is one of the odder fantasies I have come across in my reading, but also one for which I have a deep affection. The book is equal parts pseudo-Arthurian Romance (in both the medieval and modern sense of the word), era-spanning historical fantasy à la Edwin Arnold’s Phra the Phoenician, and epic hero’s journey; there is even some mild pulp sci-fi thrown in for good measure. Despite (or maybe because of) all of this melding and mixing, Merlin’s Ring manages to be something all its own.

Written by one of the old standbys of the Weird Tales pulp magazine (Munn was an associate of H.P. Lovecraft and Seabury Quinn) Merlin’s Ring was probably Munn’s masterwork. It is actually the second volume in a series of stories that purport to te... Read More

City of Illusions: Better than previous HAINISH CYCLE books

City of Illusions by Ursula K. Le Guin
“You go to the place of the lie to find out the truth?”

Ursula K. Le Guin’s HAINISH CYCLE continues with City of Illusions, which I liked better than its predecessors, Rocannon’s World and Planet of Exile. City of Illusions takes place on Earth sometimes in the far future after an alien invasion has killed off most of the people and has completely changed the Earth’s ecology, infrastructure, and geopolitical arrangement. There’s a large capital city run by an alien race called the Shing, but most of the humans are spread out and divided into small clusters in the hinterlands which have gone back to their natural state after Earth’s cities were destroyed. While there are futuristic technologies in the capital, the rest of the people live off the land without t... Read More