fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviewsSorcerer’s Son by Phyllis Eisenstein

After the sorceress Delivev Ormoru rejects his marriage proposal, sorcerer Smada Rezhyk becomes worried that she’s out to get him. In order to reduce her powers so that he’ll have time to weave himself a protective gold shirt, Rezhyk sends his demon slave Gildrum to impregnate Delivev with Rezhyk’s own seed. Gildrum takes on the form of a handsome young knight (Mellor) and shows up injured at Delivev’s doorstep. As expected, Delivev falls in love with Mellor, but unexpectedly, Gildrum (who doesn’t even have a heart) falls in love with her, too. However, Gildrum must return to serve Rezhyk. He doesn’t tell Delivev that he’s really a demon — he lies and tells her that he’ll come back after he delivers a message.

Sure enough, Delivev becomes pregnant and gives birth to Cray. And, of course, Mellor never returns. When Cray becomes a teenager, he decides to find out what happened to the father whom his mother still loves. This leads to a series of adventures which create more questions than answers.

Phyllis Eisenstein’s Sorcerer’s Son is a pleasant coming-of-age novel. The writing, for the most part, is lovely — it flows well and is not overdone or pretentious. The dialogue, however, (and there is more of it than their needs to be) is sometimes stilted and unrealistic.

The plot of Sorcerer’s Son is original and interesting — especially the parts in which Delivev or Rezhyk appear. Delivev has control over nature — particularly snakes, spiders, and ivy. Rezhyk summons and enslaves various types of demons who live in a complex world and follow strict rules about summoning. These parts are very creative and entertaining and I found that I have developed a respect for Phyllis Eisenstein’s imagination.

Unfortunately, I just could not believe in Cray, the hero of the story. He was too nice, good at everything he tried, rarely complaining, and too mature, noble, and philosophical for a teenager. Except for the very rare occasions when he lost his temper, he was boring. I’m not into angsty teenage brooding, but Cray could have used a couple more personality dimensions.

The ending of Sorcerer’s Son was a little too sweet for me, but if you like that sort of story, then this is a good read.

The Book of Elementals — (1979-1988) The Book of Elementals contains both Sorcerer’s Son (1979) and The Crystal Palace (1988) reprinted and packaged together. The third novel in the series, The City in Stone, has not been published. You can read Chapter 1 on Phyllis Eisenstein’s website. Publisher: As Cray Ormoru, son of the enchantress Delivev, grows to be a man in magical Castle Spinweb, he yearns to find his father, who disappeared years before on a heroic mission. And so Cray sets out on the journey which would take him from town to castle to a fortress of bronze, totally unprepared for the sorrows and dangers that lie ahead. For the fate of Cray’s father would only be discovered by the light of demon fire…

fantasy book reviews Phyllis Eisenstein The Book of Elementals 1. Sorcerer's Son 2. The Crystal Palacefantasy book reviews Phyllis Eisenstein The Book of Elementals 1. Sorcerer's Son 2. The Crystal Palace


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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