Dickson's style of fantasy hearkens back to the era before both the glossy epic approach of Robert Jordan or Terry Brooks and the pseudo-postmodern slickness of Ellen Kushner or Pamela Dean, but it has its own special charms. In this new story about James and Angela Eckert (following The Dragon, the Earl, and the Troll), the author's meticulous historical research salvages what in the hands of a lesser talent could have been a pedestrian work. The Eckerts are 20th-century humans trapped in the 14th century, where Jim has discovered that he possesses magical powers. Here, Jim agrees to help his friend Sir Brian Neville-Smythe find the father of Brian's beloved Geronde, so that Brian and Geronde may wed. The father was last known to be in the Muslim land of Palmyra, and Dickson's fascination with the cultures of that area proves infectious. While the adventures here are cut from standard fantasy cloth--kidnappings, caravans and sorcery abound--the detailing is marvelous. Also appealing are Jim's pet hobgoblin, Hob, and the djinn named Kelb, who generally appears in the form of a small, mangy dog; both provide comic diversion. The characters may be secondary to the historical re-creation--Angela Eckert is especially ill-used in this volume--but those looking for fantasy in the mode of L. Sprague de Camp or L.E. Modesitt should delight in this book. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996 Release date: 01/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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