The Birthgrave: Tanith Lee’s first novel

The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee

Let me be clear: The Birthgrave has kind of a dumb plot. It’s repetitive, it’s all predicated on a prosaic twist that’s kept overly mysterious, and when the big reveal finally does come, it’s via one of the most blatant examples of deus ex machina I’ve ever seen. All the same, I’d still call this a good book. Maybe even a great one. That’s the magic of Tanith Lee: even her first novel, a work where she was clearly still working out her craft to an extent, feels like something you might find engraved on an ancient stone tablet under a forgotten prehistoric pyramid. She has remarkably rich prose, of course — it’s Tanith Lee, so that practically goes without saying — but she also makes the characters feel true in a way that so very few novelists can manage. The events pai... Read More

The Coming of the Horseclans: Did Not Finish

The Coming of the Horseclans by Robert Adams

After two centuries, the undying High Lord Milo Morai has returned to the Horseclans to lead them to their prophesied destiny. First they must conquer their enemies and the Witchmen — pre-holocaust scientists who have continued living by transplanting their minds into stolen bodies.

I stole most of that synopsis from the back of the book, because I only made it to page sixty-nine, the end of chapter six, and I still hadn’t gotten to the meat of the story.

I’ve wanted to get my hands on a copy of The Coming of the Horseclans for a while now. When I was a kid, I remember seeing these books on the grocery store magazine shelves or drugstore spinner racks, and later on at the mall bookstores in the Men’s Adventure section. I was already a fan of Conan and some other les... Read More

Cart and Cwidder: Immensely interesting

Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones is best known for her quirky books that combine magic with realistic, everyday people dealing with the problems that magic creates. Though some take place in parallel worlds, the general atmosphere of these books are contemporary and firmly grounded in reality. However, Cart and Cwidder is the first book in THE DALEMARK QUARTET that follows the more generic pattern of fantasy (war in a created world) — making it unique in Diana Wynne Jones's canon of books, but a typical inclusion to the range of fantasy novels.

Due to the conflict between north and south countries in the land of Dalemark, very few travellers move between them, with the exception of licensed musicians in their horse-drawn carts, entertaining the crowds wherever they stop. Dagner, Moril and Brid are the children of the singer Clennen and Lenina who... Read More