cover image Into the Thinking Kingdoms

Into the Thinking Kingdoms

Alan Dean Foster. Aspect, $44 (376pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52136-9

The fantastical Journey of the Catechist series Foster began with Carnivores of Light and Darkness continues, as the plucky herdsman Etjole Ehomba carries on his search for a mysterious woman who has been kidnapped by the necromancer Hymneth the Possessed. In this installment, Ehomba and his two companions--the great black half-lion/half cheetah Ahlitah and the itinerant swordsman and treasure-hunter Simna ibn Sind--seek a boat that will take them across the infamous Semordria Ocean. In Lybondai, a shifty, cigar-smoking merchant tells them the only place they can find such a ship is in the legendary port city of Hamacassar, far to the north. To get there the trio must cross many strange lands, including a dangerous marsh overrun by wild horses and a place where flowers fight for superiority. In Tethspraih they are arrested for having improper thoughts. In Phan City they barely escape with their lives when attacked by otherworldly spirits after the ""witching hour,"" and in Netherbrae they free an intelligent beast named Hunkapa Aub from his human torturers. Though every obstacle falls a bit too neatly to Ehomba's native wit and his grab bag of enchanted items, the story's swift pace and Foster's boundless imagination deliver something very different from the usual fantasy quest saga. In these magical lands, Foster shows that character and common sense can be as important, and as powerful, as any magic. (Apr.)