Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Clarke and Friedman Reviews at SFFWorld

Mark and I are back with a review a piece this week. Again, Mark continues to read over some older novels, this one in particular from one of his personal favorite authors. I take a look at the concluding volume of a dark fantasy trilogy that has flown under the radar the past few years.

Arthur C. Clarke is one of Mark’s favorites and here, he revisits a late novel from Sir Arthur which has just been reissued. Here’s the link and excerpt of his review of The Ghost of the Grand Banks:

Those who know a little about Sir Arthur may know that one of his passions in his later half-century was for scuba diving, though sadly limited by his ill health. His move to Sri Lanka in 1956 was evidently partly due to this. This interest in the undersea world was first made prominent in his novel The Deep Range (1957), though it was based on a short story first published in 1954.

If the appearance of a ghost didn’t already suggest it, Ghost from the Grand Banks is perhaps nominally science fiction, and certainly less science-fictional than many reader would expect from the author of 2001 A Space Odyssey. Though mainly set in the near-future (at least from a 1990 perspective) the trappings of technology and science are not too fantastical and there are some hot science ideas of the time involved, although the Epilogue, set in the far future, is more typical Clarke grandeur.

As ever, in the later Clarke books, the chapters are short, rarely more than a couple of pages, but each one throwing out clever ideas – the ever-clean car windscreen, the Y2K computer bug, the idea of the Mandelbrot set, all fairly new ideas at the time of the book’s original publication but without too much relevance to the plot.

In my review, I take a look at C.S. Friedman’s Legacy of Kings the final volume of her Magister Trilogy:

One thing I’ve always admired about Ms. Friedman’s writing is her ability to lend credence to the plight of all characters in her stories, regardless of which side of the conflict the character(s) is/are positioned. Whether we see the inner conflict King Salvatore is experiencing, or Friedman then switches to his mother and casts the plight he’s experienced against her own struggles. Even Sidera comes across as a character possessing plausible reason for her actions.

As the character moves along in the story, we learn more of the truth of the character’s past and his or her motivations. She did this with Gerald Tarrant in
The Coldfire Trilogy, and to a similar degree, she’s spun the same type of magic with Colivar. He is at (or very near) the center of controversy within Magister society (along with Kamala). Magisters don’t generally get along with each other, they guard their secrets very closely and will consider others of their kind an enemy with the slightest drop of a hat, or the thought of a drop of a hat. So, what has to happen in order for the world to be saved from the Souleaters? The Magisters must put aside their petty differences and unite.

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