DAGGERSPELL by Katharine Kerr


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Yet another fantasy trilogy gets under way, with encouraging signs of originality but a wildly confused and overlong narrative. The backdrop is an odd but reasonably effective blend of Iron Age and medieval, where ""dweomer"" (magic) works, reincarnation is a fact, and everyone believes in ""Wyrd"" (fate). In the past, an eternal triangle developed: Prince Galrion was betrothed to the lovely Brangwen, but then learned he had dweomer ability and yearned to apprentice himself to the old mage Rhegor. Galrion's father would not hear of it and cast the young prince out; so Galrion took the name Nevyn (no-one). Meanwhile, Brangwen's unstable brother Gerraent declared his incestuous love for his sister; at first appalled, Brangwen eventually weakened and became pregnant. But then Gerraent, tortured by guilt, killed his best friend and was killed; poor Brangwen drowned herself, and Nevyn swore an oath over her body to make restitution. The characters, though unaware of their previous lives, reappear as new incarnations (except for Nevyn, who, to try and fulfill his oath, has been given immortality). An intermediate section adds only to the confusion and could profitably have been excised altogether. Finally, in the present, Gerraent's latest incarnation is the outcast ""silver dagger"" mercenary, Cullyn; Brangwen is his daughter Jill; and they become embroiled in a plot involving rebellion, family honor, some elves, and a dark sorcerer for Nevyn to deal with. Well-handled family interactions, with particularly intriguing dweomer ideas. The plot, though, is sometimes unintelligible, the reincarnation notion is often out of control, and Kerr's all-purpose expletive, ""cursed,"" rapidly grows wearisome. Promising work, then; what's mostly needed is a more vigorous and sympathetic editing.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1986
ISBN: 0307755835
Publisher: Doubleday