THE HOUNDS OF GOD by Judith Tarr


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Volume III in The Hound and the Falcon historical fantasy trilogy, following The Isle of Glass (1984) and The Golden Horn (1985). Alf, ex-monk and psi-talented elf, has returned to Rhiyana with his lover, the shape-shifting elf Thea, where he is Lord Chancellor to elf-king Gwydion. But trouble is brewing, in the form of the Hounds of God, a fanatical Pauline sect athirst to destroy the Rhiyanan ""witches"" and heretics, apparently with Papal sanction. Thea, just delivered of twins Cynan and Liahan, is abducted by a being with awesome mental powers; Gwydion's son is killed in the process. So while Alf heads for Rome (source of the evil mental power), Pauline crusaders systematically begin to dismember the civilized state of Rhiyana. In Rome, Alf realizes he is hopelessly overmatched: his opponent, Simon Magus, is a twisted elf with powers greater than all the other elves combined. Thea and the children, meanwhile, are imprisoned in hound-form, unable to shapeshift or escape. Alf's long, patient struggle to free his beloved and defeat the evil Magus, while sometimes hard to follow, is often a splendid one. The main problem here is the 13th-century Rome backdrop, which never acquires any life or depth--unlike the well-realized Byzantium of The Golden Horn. A sturdy and occasionally exciting plot, then, if thin on historical context; and the last few chapters--where the various love-interests are dealt with--are dreadfully drippy. Still: a strong finale to an unusual and ambitious but decidedly patchy trilogy.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1986
Publisher: Bluejay--dist. by St. Martin's