Visions of Paradise

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Visible Light (continued)

“A Thief in Korianth” is a novella about ... well, you obviously know what it’s about. ☺ Gillian is a young girl caring for both herself and her younger, precocious sister as a pickpocket, hoping eventually to accumulate enough money to save her sister from either of the two lives available to her, thievery and prostitution. But when she steals a sealed cannister thinking it contains money, she finds herself in the midst of a struggle between powerful forces in Korianth, a series of events far out of her control. This is the type of fantasy I enjoy most, a story either set in a real historical setting or an alternate historical setting, in which the only difference between fantasy and reality is either the “alternate” event or the presence of magic. Think of Fritz Leiber’s Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser or anything written by Guy Gavriel Kay.

In many instances, the magic is actually a red herring, placed in the story to earn its status as fantasy, but either unused or so minor the story could just as well been straight historical fiction. This was such a story, with the magic used sparingly and not totally necessary to the story's denouement. Overall it was gripping reading and typically well-done.

The final novella is “The Brothers,” a long fantasy about two warring kingdoms separated by a wooded area controlled by the Sidhe. The “evil” kingdom is ruled by the brother of the rightful king, who killed his sibling to achieve the throne. The son of the former king had been sent away to live with relatives as protection against his uncle, but when he comes back to reclaim the throne, he finds that circumstances might be considerably different than he had thought. And when the Sidhe interfere in his quest, his situation becomes even more difficult. This is a good story, not as strong as “A Thief in Korianth,” but a worthy conclusion to the book.

As I said when reviewing Sunfall, the first portion of The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh, this portion alone made the overall collection worthwhile reading. And I still have several hundred pages of newer fiction to go!


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