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Raymond's Reviews #176

%T The Missing Matter
%A Thomas R. McDonough
%A Wallace H. Tucker
%I Bantam Spectra
%D January 1991
%O paperback, US$4.99
%P 358
%G ISBN 0-553-29364-8

Another package deal from Byron Preiss, this one (#3) somewhere between the intriguing #1 (Red Genesis) and the execrable #2 (Alien Tongue, RR#143) in quality. McDonough gives us a competent but poorly-charactered tale of travel between parallel worlds on the "wandering world" Ronin, complete with bug-eyed monsters. It's not as good as his The Architects Of Hyperspace; one suspects it might have been a failed first novel pulled out of the trunk. Wallace Tucker's essay on the "dark matter" problem in cosmology is only loosely connected to the novel, but worth the paperback price in itself.

%T TekLords
%A William Shatner
%I Ace
%D January, 1991
%O paperback, US$4.99
%P 293
%G ISBN 0-441-80010-6

The amazing thing about TekWar (RR#79) was that it worked at all. Now it turns out that Shatner can't write much better than he can act; these books were ghosted by Ron Goulart. In this one the novelty's worn off and all we've got is a routine jaunt through cop-novel cliches and a bunch of Goulart's camp-erratic robots. T.J. Hooker on Murdstone. No thanks.

%T The Sapphire Rose
%S The Elenium
%V Book Three
%A David Eddings
%I Del Rey
%D January 1992
%O clothbound, US$22.00
%P 467
%G ISBN 0-345-37474-6

Though I greatly enjoyed The Belgariad, I've had a pretty low opinion of Eddings since the beginning of the Malloreon books, one which the first two books of The Elenium did little to raise. Honesty compels me to admit that this third volume is significantly better, and I think I now understand the pattern of variation in Eddings's work. He's quite good at character and dialogue, especially when he plays ironically with the conventions of the fantasy form. But he's poor at world-building, action, and the sorts of things one has to do well to make traditional epic fantasy come off. Thus, the intrigues and romantic scenes and church politics this book is dominated by work well; the epic confrontation scenes work much less well, and the battle sequences and everyday-life scenes don't work at all. Caveat reader.

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