Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Fri Feb 02 13:03:54 EST 1990

Raymond's Reviews #15

%T The Third Eagle
%A R. A MacAvoy
%I Bantam Spectra
%D Jan 1990
%O paperback, US$4.50
%P 260
%G 0-441-22569-1

R. A. MacAvoy's remarkable first novel, Tea With A Black Dragon, earned great praise for its originality and the deft and delicate handling of the characters. Her output since then has been erratic, including the rather dismal sequel Twisting The Rope and the popular Trio For Lute

In The Third Eagle, MacAvoy ventures for the first time into SF. The book is lightweight but fun, a gentle parody of the hard-man-with-a-mission stories so common in the genre.

The protagonist, Wanbli, is born to a tribe of Wacaan, genetically modified Amerinds who serve as bodyguards to the decadent merchants of planet Neunacht. He is a Paint, one of the tribe's elite of martial-artist/warriors. As the novel opens he is brooding on how boring his job is. Our Wanbli, you see, has a very un-Wacaan ambition; he wants to be a movie star.

A victory over two Paints sent to off Wanbli's employer gives our hero his chance. He takes the money and runs off-planet, heading for New Benares and the Bright Lights. The Wandering Innocent he's not, though -- nor is he the secretive, volcanic Tough Guy. No, our Wanbli is a naive but charming wiseass.

A modest amount of adventure in bed and battle follows, with our hero carefully modelling himself on his screen idol. He acquires an alien sidekick -- a fearsome-looking scaly monster with the personality of a scared rabbit and a predilection for chess and higher mathematics.

Then, things start to come unstuck. To say more would give away too much plot -- but Wanbli learns more than he wants to about dreams and what can happen when they come true. Even the on-the-run scenes are parodic, though MacAvoy works up a satisfying amount of action and drama for the climax of the novel.

I read this one in bed after a long day, and I'd say that or a bathtub is about the perfect setting for it, especially if you've read too many novels with tough-guy loners in trouble in them lately -- The Third Eagle will make a welcome antidote.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Fri Feb 02 13:03:54 EST 1990

Eric S. Raymond <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>