cover image The Spoils of War

The Spoils of War

Alan Dean Foster. Del Rey Books, $19.5 (281pp) ISBN 978-0-345-35857-8

Concluding the story begun in A Call to Arms and The False Mirror , Foster chronicles a centuries-long war among alien races: the Weave versus the Amplitur and its allies. The latter wish to subsume intelligent species to the Purpose, an arguably despotic regime under Amplitur rule; the Weave, a collection of alien races, opposes this notion. The tide turns when the Weave discover the planet Earth and the savage, martially skilled human race. The humans' savagery becomes the deciding factor, and the war eventually ends with the Amplitur's surrender. Of main interest here is the way humans are perceived by aliens, as seen through the eyes of Lalelelang, a Wais scholar, who is unique among her people in displaying an interest in, and later a tolerance for being in the presence of humans. Lalelelang's scholarly intensity leads her to some remarkable discoveries of secrets held by several species, including humans. As usual, Foster's aliens are either B-movie monster types or variations on Earth animals (the Wais are in essence large birds). The novel does a good job of breaking down stereotypes about how races behave--though Foster tends to maintain a view of humans as savages. While unevenly paced, this is generally a worthwhile read. (Apr.)