THE ISLE OF GLASS by Judith Tarr


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Book One of a trilogy entitled The Hound and the Falcon: a so-so historical fantasy featuring King Richard the Lionheart (cf. John M. Ford's fine The Dragon Waiting, 1983, about Richard III). The elf Alun, ambassador of elf-king Gwydion of Rhiyana, arrives at St. Ruan's Abbey--where his grievous wounds are treated by orphan-foundling Alfred. (He's actually an elf too but doesn't know it.) Alun has escaped torture at the hands of mad, rebellious baron Rhydderch--who hopes to foment war between Richard of Anglia and Kilhwch of Gwynedd. So Alfred must take on Alun's mission to dissuade Richard from making war. Along the way, Alfred is befriended (and nearly seduced) by another elf, the beautiful shape-shifting Thea; he's an immediate success with Richard but fails to change the king's warlike intent; he falls afoul of the local Inquisition, is accused of witchcraft, and allows himself to be apprehended--as a means to delay Richard until Kilhwch's messenger arrives. And when the messenger does finally show up, Richard reluctantly agrees to meet with Kilhwch and Gwydion. Tarr's plot here is wobbly and unconvincing--with little help from the extensive emphasis on the often wearisomely spineless Alfred (in his transformation from inexperienced monk to worldly elf-counsellor). Still, the solid historical backdrop and the hardworking characters make this modestly involving: a sturdy send-off for yet another fantasy-trilogy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Bluejay--dist. by St. Martin's