MANDRAGON by R. M. Koster


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Borrowing a page from Garcia Marquez (and then almost wearing it out by writing it over and over), Koster ends his trilogy of sprightly but labored novels set in the imaginary banana-republic/corrupt-orama of Tinieblas with the focus on mage Mandragon--he's a hermaphrodite circus-freak who works his way up into becoming a sorcerer whose miracles astound the Latin countries, and then he becomes one in a long line of tin-horn Tinieblan dictators. Starting off by doing good--overthrowing the incredibly corrupt Manduco family and installing in their place a former president, Sanduco-Mandragon's complete powers (anything he wishes happens; Kester has a lot of fun with the device) are soon turned on Sanduco's wife Angela, with whom the double-sexed magician falls in love. Tilting fully to male, his powers, love-enslaved, become vulgar, brutal, degraded, tuned to Angela's slightest disgusting wish. Sanduco is tortured to death by an imaginary insect-plague, and Angela assumes the presidency. She's long been planning to make Tiniebias the haven for the Howard-Hughes-like billionaire, Dred Mandevilie, who cruises offshore in a nuclear-powered submarine because no country will have him. But he's dead by the time Angela invites him onto dry land--a long-nailed, bearded, withered corpse. No problem: Mandragon brings him alive long enough to sign over his wealth to Angela. Then Angela, having little further use for him, lets Mandragon join the recently-dead Dred in the nether world. Kester loves machination for its own sake--and alliterative prose (""a message from a maniac in Manizales and a letter from a lunatic in Luzon, along with other crankiform communications. . .""). And he's wild over the magician idea, milking it endlessly--in this inventive but private, over-played game.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow