CUP OF CLAY by Carole Nelson Douglas


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 Douglas (Good Morning, Irene, p. 635) returns to fantasy with this bland first volume of The Taliswoman Trilogy. Here, Minnesota reporter Alison Carver finds herself transported to the otherworld of Veil. She wanders aimlessly with the Littlelost, a troop of Veilian orphans, joining up along the way with Sage, a kindly old wisewoman, and Rowan, a standoffish youth on a quest to win the magical Cup of Earth for his city of Desmeyne. But Alison inadvertently wins the Cup instead, and she and the Littlelost accompany Rowan back to Desmeyne, where rigid social strata and sexist segregation disgust her. As Alison uses the Cup to heal Desmeyne's blighted farmland, she attracts the notice of darker forces--and she and Rowan must set off again to find the fabled Heart of Earth to cure Veil's numerous ills. Despite a veneer of Native American lore, Douglas adds little new to the age-old modern-person-in-a-strange-land fantasy concept. Alison's unexamined hypocrisy is frustrating: though she admires Native American primitiveness, she has nothing but contempt for the backward Desmeyne, smug in her 20th-century ethical and scientific certainty. The plot, meanwhile, is fueled by contrivance, and the prose has an uncomfortable blend of fantasy elements, stiff formalized speech, and pop-culture colloquialism (leaves cling ``like milk-sodden Frosted Flakes''). An uninspired rehash of a standard fantasy template.*justify no*

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-85146-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991


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