In Glickman’s (Aura, 2004, etc.) third novel, two princes face a threat that is both physical and philosophical.
Prince Talland meets the alluring, dangerous daughter of the Godlians (religious fanatics driven to control the world), and Prince Orland must hold fast against the mandated destruction of elder wisdom on Nef Island, where it’s all too easy to let old insights die. For Talland, the risk is of allowing others to assume control while he’s growing into his role as an active ruler. Orland must do more than merely escape; he must lead the world to wisdom. For both brothers, there is a daunting learning curve. Can they navigate the Godlian tyranny sufficiently to bring the people truth, whatever the price? Or will they sell out and abandon the heritage of humanity? Even the most enlightened are willing to burn ancient knowledge to save themselves, and there is always the matter of the spirit of “The One”—do they serve it, or do they defy it? For Orland, Talland and the reader, these issues remain foremost as the nations of their world are drawn into the two brothers’ destiny and move forward. And the story does not end there—as in the real world, every great clash has its aftermath. The novel is deeply political, and readers can embrace or ignore this as they wish. It is also extremely long, with a word count equivalent to three standard novels. The characters are well fleshed out (of the two princes, the stuttering, troubled Talland is the more interesting, but the story is told from Orland’s perspective); the dialogue is serviceable and often lighthearted (“stories require bathed bodies, and dinner”); and the pacing acceptable. Every point of view is addressed, and there is more than enough magic to keep readers engaged. Where it falls short, the reader will enjoy the deep philosophical disputes that the ambling, anecdote- and song-driven story—in part a New Age narrative—demands. More a fictional memoir of a troubled period in a fantasy world’s history than a battle-driven adventure.
An enjoyable, somewhat overlong fantasy of clashing beliefs.