THE WELL-FAVORED MAN by Elizabeth Willey


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 Strange, complicated fantasy with confusing, science-fiction- ish intrusions: Willey's agreeable, often impressive debut. The near-immortal, magic-touched extended family that rules Argylle is missing a few key members: grandfather Prospero has gone visiting; father Gaston vanished more than 20 years ago after his wife, Freia, fell into the Spring, the source of Argylle's magic, and was absorbed by it during a magical battle; uncle Dewar, the family's most powerful sorcerer, has also gone mysteriously missing--leaving young sorcerer Gwydion reluctantly in charge. A huge dragon manifests itself, beyond Gwydion's powers to kill, requiring huge magical effort even to dislodge. Then young, timid Ulrike arrives involuntarily, by magical means; she claims to be Gwydion's long-lost sister. And Argylle's Battlemaster, Thiorn, shows up, bearing complaints: someone has stolen a copy of Freia's genetic makeup--and Gwydion wonders anew about Ulrike. What's really going on? Well, uncle Dewar knows that Freia is still alive, as a sort of inspirational ghost within the Spring; she's unhappy and not doing a good job, but the Spring's previous patron, a powerful ancestor, is striving desperately to hang on to Freia. Gaston absented himself because he couldn't bear to remain among the family without Freia; Dewar, once considered mad, has been engrossed in sorcerous attempts to provide Freia with another body. The air is thick with international and inter-family intrigue, as everybody is willing to meddle in everybody else's business. The template here--much too obviously--is Roger Zelazny's Amber series. Withal, Willey's construction offers a splendid cast, well-considered magicking, and a weak, sprawling plot. Assured, different, superior.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-85590-7
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993


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