BELOW THE ROOT
The future-fantasy world of Greensky -- where a race called Kindar, clad in winged shubas, practice daily ceremonies of Love, Peace and Joy in their grundtree-top nid-places and children in the Garden exercise the skills of pensing, teleporting and grunspreking -- is a long way from Snyder's usual contemporary settings, but the concerns and attitudes expressed here are less remote. Settled by survivors from another world destroyed by war, Greensky is a vegetarian society where the words hate and kill do not exist and the only threat is from the dreaded Pash-shan who live below the root and who capture and enslave babies and occasional adults who fall or venture to the forest floor. Lately however the protective vine is withering, citizens fall ill of the Wasting or overindulge in Berry-dreaming, and thirteen-year-old Raamo D'ok, unusually gifted in spirit-power and newly chosen to join the ruling priestly Ol-zhaan, finds suspicion and subterfuge even in the inner sanctums. But where until recent years the hero might have led a glorious victory over the Pash-shan or at least uncovered a plot between them and certain of the Ol-zhaan, here Raamo, alerted by a suspicious older novice named Neric and aided by his female counterpart Genaa, discovers that the dwellers below the root are not monsters after all but exiled Kindar who had become too curious about the forest floor and the secrets of their guardian priests. Greensky is a bit too ritualized and bloodless for our taste and we miss the stronger personalities of Snyder's previous, less highly evolved characters, but as revisionist fantasy this is worth the trip.