Spellsinger & The Hour of the Gate by Alan Dean Foster
… Well, perhaps not Tolkien, but I had the urge for alliteration in the title. Spellsinger is a fantasy series quite unlike any other. While the anthropomorphisation of animals is certain not a new thing, Alan Dean Foster has done something out of the ordinary with it here. To give you some idea, if you can imagine the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters in a fantasy setting, then you’ll have some idea of what to expect. Before TMNT was watered down for TV it was a quirky and edgy comic strip with a depth to the characters that adaption for the screen utterly destroyed. Hmm. That probably helps a total of one single reader of this review in understanding more about the novel. Ah well. :)
So what we have are animals with human intelligence and traits for the majority of the characters. The main character is a guy from Earth who gets ‘magicked’ into the fantasy world and has to cope, not only with the enormous change in his environment, but also with unexpected contrasts such as a bipedal bunny being a ferocious, swordwielding combatant. Needless to say, the writing is sometimes tongue-in-cheek, though not with the forced humour of, say, Terry Pratchett.
Other than this I admit the novel is a fairly basic “quest” story: the discombobulated protagonist sets out to save the world from a gathering darkness, all the while discovering new and highly useful innate abilities, and is possessed of a rather obtuse preoccupation with trying to catch the attention of the main romantic interest (figure a). You get the picture.
While not high art by any stretch, it makes for a quite readable escapist fantasy novel without a great deal of predictability or clichéd turns of phrase.
Mark Pawlyszyn, one of our earliest guest reviewers, has always tended toward the creative side of life and had careers in music and painting before settling into his current position as the owner of Unique Images Photography. Mark has visited and lived in twelve countries and can ask for directions to the bathroom in several languages. He currently lives in Canada with his wife, Sherri.
Spellsinger — (1981-1994) Publisher: In a world of sentient animals and humans, the hardheaded (and hard-shelled) wizard Clothahump searches across the dimensions for another kind of wizard to help defeat the looming threat posed by the armies of the Plated Folk. What he gets is Jonathan-Thomas Meriweather, part-time would-be rock guitarist and janitor, who finds that with the use of a unique instrument called a duar, he can perform magic by playing and choosing from his well-worn repertoire of rock. Trouble is, while the lyrics he sings may be righteous, the magic they spawn is all too often something else.