THE CRYSTAL EMPIRE by L. Neil Smith

THE CRYSTAL EMPIRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Peculiar, brutal, rudderless alternate-world yarn. In the 14th century, the Black Death has wiped out most of Europe, allowing an enlightened, scientifically advanced Saracen-Jewish empire to take over; the Mughal empire dominates the East. In the New World, a few European refugees dwell uneasily alongside Native Americans; here lives inventor Sedrich, who, after a violent disagreement with the vile local religious sect, strikes off on his own and heads west. Later, the Saracen leader decides that his daughter Ayesha shall travel west, hopefully to wed the leader of the rumored Crystal Empire and forge an alliance against the warlike Mughals. Eventually, Ayesha's Saracens in their windmilling land-yacht meet up with warrior Sedrich, now calling himself Fireclaw, repairer of the natives' steam-powered motorbikes. All proceed to California, only to be captured by the cruel Sino-Aztec Crystal Emperor; the latter commands, among other things, flying saucers and laser beams. The westerners, however, soon contrive to destroy the Crystal Empire by blowing up its sacrificial power-pyramid. Curious but uncompelling work, from the floundering plot to Smith's clotted writing and hard-to-visualize exposition. Add on the gore-drenched, callous doings--and the upshot is an impressively imagined but overambitious blood-bath.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1986
ISBN: 1604504528
Publisher: Bluejay--dist. by St. Martin's