THE BRISTLING WOOD by Katharine Kerr


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Third in the--series?--after Daggerspell (1986) and Darkspell (1988), which started life as the story of the immortal sorcerer Nevyn's age-old, unceasing labors to right ancient wrongs and fulfill his sworn oath. Here, even more than previously, all this has faded into the backdrop as Kerr, dazzled by her own creation, rashes heedlessly off into standard heroic fantasy, with only the requisite lengthy flashback to keep the original pot boiling. In some respects, Kerr continues to improve; she's gained control of her prose, and what plot there is moves forward competently. Some shadowy bad guys kidnap Rhodry, the mercenary and outcast second-in-line to the Eldidd throne. In another plot line, Rhodry's wife and fellow-mercenary Jill is beguiled and ensorcelled by Perryn, a horse-thief and seducer and maybe not-human. Then Rhodry's elfish, magical brother Salamander shows up, just in time to rescue Jill, consult with Nevyn, and set off in pursuit of Rhodry--the latter ends up a drugged slave in the exotic land of Bardek. Why the kidnap? Well, Kerr doesn't actually tell us. Who's behind it? She doesn't tell us that either. How does it all end? Well, it doesn't--stay tuned, presumably, for volume four. While Kerr's command of detail grows increasingly assured, her ability to direct the narrative--dubious to start with--has vanished utterly. True believers only.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1989
ISBN: 385-24275-1
Publisher: Doubleday
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