KING OF THE SCEPTER'D ISLE by Michael Greatrex Coney


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Another in Coney's rich and charming Song of Earth series, and sequel to the engaging Fang, the Gnome (1988). As part of the avatar Avalona's plan to prevent the destruction of the space-god Starquin, three ""happentracks"" (probability worlds)--containing, respectively, post-Roman, robber-baron Britons; Arthur (the legendary); and the diminutive, red-capped gnomes--have merged. But the poor gnomes, having deposed their leader, Fang, and despite Arthur's protection, are terribly vulnerable to human carelessness or malice. So Fang the memorizer sifts his racial memories in search of a way to increase the gnomes' birthrate (the problem is the gnomes' aversion to sex). Arthur's career, meanwhile, follows the predicted pattern, and soon comes to its fated end (after his defeat, Arthur is preserved in suspended animation by Nyneve, Avalona's apprentice). Fang learns what he needs to know--but the knowledge requires the gnomes to leave Earth and return to the spacebat that brought them. Then, aboard the spacebat, the kikihauhuas (they created the gnomes as experimental colonists) place the gnomes in suspended animation also. Thirty thousand years pass. Finally, Nyneve revives Arthur and the gnomes to help the humans of Dream Earth battle the Tin Mothers, robots built by the kikihuahuas to serve them, and now intent on destroying Starquin and humanity. Again, agreeably complex, skillfully handled work, often amusing, sometimes hilarious, always balanced by a serious undertone. Perhaps this one will rescue Coney from undeserved obscurity and neglect.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1989
Publisher: New American Library