PAST IMPERATIVE: Vol. I of the Great Game by Dave Duncan
Kirkus Star

PAST IMPERATIVE: Vol. I of the Great Game

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First installment of a projected fantasy trilogy from the author of the splendid The Cursed (p. 350), etc. In 1914, just as WW I breaks out in Europe, young English gentleman Edward Exeter awakens in a hospital ward with a smashed leg and only scattered memories, and under police guard as a murder suspect. Then an insane female assassin materializes at his bedside, intent on finishing him off. He is rescued by the mysterious Mr. Oldcastle and conveyed to Stonehenge, a ""node"" of ""virtuality"" where it's possible to cross into other realities--or so the disbelieving Edward is forced to accept after Mr. Oldcastle magically heals his leg. Meanwhile, in an adjacent reality known as Nextdoor, 12-year-old Eleal Singer learns of a prophecy, the Filoby Testament, which details her involvement with a certain D'ward Kisster, the Liberator. In Nextdoor, it seems, the gods--those who've crossed from other realities become immortal and charged with magic ""mana""--easily grow bored and are disposed to play one-upmanship games. On both worlds, the Service (good guys) opposes the Chamber (bad guys). When Edward arrives, he finds that the god Tion is determined to make Edward into a god himself. But Edward, rejecting Tion and his crazy games, must betray poor Eleal in order to return to England. Duncan has a wonderful knack of conjuring up wacky scenarios and making them believable and fascinating; his characters are perky and distinctive, and his narratives strike an ideal balance between whimsy and gravity. Another winner--keep all eyestalks extended for Round Two.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: AvoNova/Morrow