cover image Cycle of Fire Trilogy

Cycle of Fire Trilogy

Janny Wurts. Eos, $16 (704pp) ISBN 978-0-06-107355-7

This stout and epic tale mixing fantasy and SF was originally published in the 1980s in mass market in three volumes, Stormwarden, Keeper of the Keys and Shadowfane. Whether those novels have been edited for this edition or not, the joint publication brings out the essential unity of the story. Far in the future, a human-crewed starship crashes on a distant planet, carrying a load of alien POWs taken to help discover the secrets of a deadly foe, the group mind known as the Gierj. In time, the humans revert to a feudal society, the aliens are seen as ""demons"" and the starship's computer survives as a ""magical"" entity known as the Vaere. Two powerful human wizards learn the mental techniques (or magic) of the Vaere, but one, Ivain Firelord, dies mad, and the other, Anskiere Stormwarden, is distrusted and imprisoned. The burden of fighting the Shadowfane, the realm of the demons, falls on Taen Dreamweaver, a fisherman's daughter, and on an orphan boy named Jaric, who is actually Ivain's bastard son. They are in a race against time to master Vaere powers, because the Shadowfane are on the march, and Taen's brother has become a minion of the Shadowfane, known as Maelgrim Dark Dreamer. The race is full of action, splendid scenes of magic (including some terrifying dreams) and engaging secondary characters. It also has many well-handled seafaring scenes (Robin Hobb's Liveship Saga fans, take note) and an amiable, even tender romance subplot. Jaric and Taen are the eventual victors, but not without cost, nor without the possibility of future adventures among the stars and against the Gierj. (June)