Riders in the Sky

Charles L. Grant, Author Forge $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-86279-4
This tepid conclusion to Grant's Millennium Quarter shows the problems of a subtle approach to horrors with earthshaking potential. In the series's previous novels--Symphony, In the Mood and Chariot--Grant, a master of implied terror, used ominous portents and dread-thickened atmosphere to give vigorous momentum to his unfolding epic of impending armageddon. That drive dissipates in a finale whose vaguely defined menace, kept out of sight for most of the story, hardly does justice to its buildup. War is breaking out around the world at century's end. On Camoret Island, a tourist spot off the Georgia coast, it manifests anemically as a fight by islanders to prevent acquisition of land by unscrupulous real estate developer Norville Cutler. Plot twists and turns reveal that Cutler is the puppet of a gang of evildoers, human incarnations of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who are trying to draw out Casey Chisholm, a righteous ex-minister with a miraculous healing touch who awaits his destiny working as a handyman on the island. Grant has a knack for finding profound spiritual meaning in the struggles of ordinary people, but he never makes it clear why Casey and the survivors from earlier novels who flock to his side are of such concern to the biblical bogeys, or how their stand will ensure the world's salvation. The tale climaxes in a fierce symbolic storm that proves in more ways than one to be only so much hot air. So an ambitious dark fantasy saga ends not with a bang, but a whimper. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1999
Release date: 12/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-8125-6286-6
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