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Raymond's Reviews #164

%T Mercedes Lackey
%A Winds of Fate
%S The Mage Winds
%V 1
%D November 1991
%O paperback, US$
%P 387
%G ISBN 0-88677-489-6

In a review of Jinx High (RR#155) I observed that Mercedes Lackey had done something much more pleasant with what looked like a pile of cliches than I'd been expecting. Winds Of Fate has a similar quality. Lackey's tale of the competent but repressed princess Elspeth in a kingdom defended by wards of magic that are slowly failing says and does all the right things to hold her intended audience, and does them with more grace and less audible grinding of plot machinery than most writers in this genre can manage. If the result is finally less interesting than Jinx High, perhaps it's because Lackey in this book has accepted the constraints of genre formulas that Jinx High was positioned to bust a little. Ultimately, this is just another plucky-princess-off-to-save-the-world-and-find-romance book. And that's a shame, because it convinces me that Lackey is capable of more interesting things.

%T Conan the Rogue
%A John Maddox Roberts
%D November 1992
%O paperback, US$9.50
%P 304
%G ISBN 0-812-51411-4

Most of the latter-day Conan pastiches are deadful, but this one is hilarious. Roberts gives us a sort of Hyborian-age remake of The Maltese Falcon, with Conan as Sam Spade. All the other characters show up in fairly thin disguises; the author's version of Casper Gutman is particularly funny. I'm keeping this one.

%T Shadow's Daughter
%A Shirley Meier
%I Baen
%D November 1991
%O paperback, US$4.99
%P 323
%G ISBN 0-671-72096-1

Another fine novel of the Fifth Millenium by Shirley Meier, half of the team that gave us The Cage (RR#3). This is the story of Megan Whitlock's childhood on the streets of F'talezon. We follow an ordinary little girl through the trials that forge her into a woman --- the woman who will one day triumph over pirates, slavers and treachery to become one of the great trading princes of the wild Brahvniki River and change the destiny of nations. It ends years before The Cage; this gap will be filled by the upcoming reissue of The Sharpest Edge. Recommended to all fans of these books so far, and that includes me.

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