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Raymond's Reviews #195

%T Northworld Justice
%A David Drake
%I Ace
%D April 1992
%O paperback, US$4.99
%P 282
%G ISBN 0-441-58616-3

In Cross The Stars (RR#176) David Drake rather clumsily strip-mined Homer's Odyssey. This is the third volume of a series that does a similarly ham-fisted job of pastiching Norse myth. The results are gruesome, carnographic and ultimately rather pointless. On top of that, though the cover screams "The Final Battle Of The Ultimate War", the ending is an obvious setup for yet another sequel. Avoid.

%T Castle Dreams
%A John DeChancie
%I Ace
%D April 1992
%O paperback, US$5.99
%P 228
%G ISBN 0-441-09414-7

The author of this book observes in a footnote that this novel may be too clever for its own good. This is true, but it's nevertheless an improvement on the last couple "Castle" books, which were boring. The plot is fairly routine huggery-muggery among the 144,000 alternate worlds accessible through the Castle's portals; the real fun here is in DeChancie's sendups of various SFnal and fantasy tropes and his skewering of postmodernist cliche. Warning: it won't make much sense unless you've actually read at least some of the previous books.

%T Greenmagic
%A Crawford Kilian
%I Del Rey
%D April 1992
%O paperback, US$
%P 311
%G ISBN 0-345-36140

The bad news is that this is yet another outcast-mage-saves-the-world fantasy. The good news is that it's more tightly written, better-crafted and shows just a little more psychological sophistication than most of its type (some may consider this assessment to damn with faint praise). Genre yard goods to be sure, but of reasonable quality. Caveat emptor.

%T Use of Weapons
%A Iain M. Banks
%I DelRey
%D April 1992
%O paperback, US$4.99
%P 389
%G ISBN 0-553-29224-2

Yet another wide-screen space-opera in the Culture/Idiran universe, from the author of Consider Phlebas (RR#156). This one is a bit darker, with some truely gruesome and psychologically wrenching stuff in it. Nevertheless, it's a terrific bit of writing. Careful readers will notice a weird set of anti-symmetries between Bora Horza Gorbuchul (last book) and this one's Cheradenine Zakalwe. Makes me wonder what Banks is going to do with the promised third book, Against A Dark Background.

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