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According to this chilly scenario, it is not one God but an uncertain number of hooded, nameless, sinister beings referred to as Them, who play dice with the universe--only instead of one universe there are many worlds, and the dice are merely accessories in Their sophisticated war games. A Homeward Bounder (the Hying Dutchman and the Wandering Jew turn up among their number) is a person who has glimpsed Them at their game and is therefore cast out to wander the Bounds, crossing when called from one world to the next, always hoping to end up back in his own where he can then stay put. Twelve-year-old Jamie becomes such a wanderer early on and gropes his way through about 100 variously grim worlds before the narrative slows down and he teams up with two other young Homeward Bounders from different worlds: Helen, an ill-tempered priestess-intraining who can turn her arm into a snake, a sword, or whatever is needed; and Joris, a demon hunter's admiring slave and assistant. The three pick up a few more allies (even Prometheus joins them in the end) and some magical paraphernalia before storming Their Real Place. As They are defeated, but not quite wiped out, the Homeward Bounders can end their exile--but Jamie, who has no home (his--and our--world having aged 100 years in his absence), takes upon himself the burden of roaming forever, thus preserving the reality of all the worlds and so preventing Their return to power. All of this makes internal sense in Jones' elaborate and intricate scheme. It's also about as remote as a complex game from any earthly concerns. For admirers of cerebral puzzle-fantasy, who will no doubt appreciate Jones' attention to every possible loophole.

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1981
Publisher: Greenwillow