cover image A Triumph of Souls

A Triumph of Souls

Alan Dean Foster. Aspect, $32 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52218-2

In the concluding installment to the epic Journeys of the Catechist fantasy trilogy, Etjole Ehomba and his companions--Simna ibn Sind (a swordsman), Ahlitah (a giant black cat) and Hunkapa Aub (a large, furry manlike beast)--continue their quest to rescue the Visioness Thermaryl from the evil Hymneth the Possessed. As Ehomba leads his gang through a series of bizarre situations and exotic dangers with curiosity and cultural wisdom, Foster demonstrates his playful narrative skill: as his protagonists cross the uncrossable Semordria Ocean, they get trapped in a watery valley, meet a seaweed man who introduces them to a truly regal king crab and get captured by (and lose their faces to) the Faceless People. Their journey across dry land is no less imaginatively crafted: they confront armies of slaughterous skeletons, deal with dangerous dreams, escape pyro-predators through tunnels made by creatures who live in the space between colors, defeat demons and survive a lethal salt plain. Set in a magical world with prehistoric overtones, the novel offers more wit and wandering than plot, but the inventive situations are engaging and the characters far more complex than they first appear. The ending is clever and will satisfy those who have made the fantastic trek through Foster's whimsical world. (Mar.)