THE NAVIGATOR OR RHADA by Robert Cham Gilman


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Extended into the further future but not further sharpened are the themes that emerged in The Rebel of Rhada (1968, 465, J-171); instead the plot is mired in (un)dramatic exposition and in disputation. As when Kynan the Navigator (priest), fleeing from turbulent Gonlan to threatened Aurora with princess Janessa, stops to argue the lessons of history and the role of religion with a warlock (scientist)--stops and considers at length as if any delay didn't threaten his plan to avert war on the Rim of the Empire. Moreover, parallels with the present, cannily evoked via quotations in the first, are here highly literal and insistent: Torquas the Galacton, King of the Universe, Protector of the Faith, Commander of the Starfleets, is a sybarite who spends his days smoking hemp and watching light shows. But the heart of the story is the crucial failure: Kynan and Torquas are identical twins, the former spirited away at birth to prevent dynastic dissension; now Kynan, asserting the power that Torquas has let lapse, can not only preserve peace and expose Torquas' exploiters but also, in the act of returning the crown, inspire his brother to try harder. For a book positioned in the headier realms of moral discourse, that's a considerable come-down.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1969
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World