Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Calling of the Three

The Calling of the Three (Night-Threads, Book 1)

Ru Emerson

Date: 01 October, 1990   —   Book

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Fiction, Fantasy

This is a case of not judging a book by its cover. Everything about this book, from its cover art (which is changed for later editions, I've noticed) to its title to the horrible description on the back cover, screams tacky.* Heck, the plot device is that hoary old trick of pulling people from our world into another world for whatever reason and purpose. And yet, for some reason I bought not only this book but the other two in the trilogy with no recommendation and no hints.

And was pleasantly surprised.

Yes, there is nothing new about the concept. Jennifer Cray, her sister Robin, and her sixteen-year-old nephew Chris are pulled into Rhadaz by a Night-Thread Wielder in order to help the heir to the Zelharri duchy reclaim his patrimony. Aletto, crippled when young, has reached his majority but his uncle still holds power, citing his inability to rule; he and his sister Lialla have escaped the fort and need assistance to bring their case to the Emperor— and the magic chose Jennifer. (Chris and Robin were the catalyst and an extra, repectively.) Jennifer, who loves music (though she became a lawyer for stability), has a talent that can be developed for Wielding Thread.

But it's not the plot. Emerson's characters are lively and interesting, and behave like people instead of archetypes. And just when you think you've got it all figured out, she throws a joker into the deck. Sure, this world seems to have split from ours several centuries back— but then why is the geography different? Sure, science and magic seem to work along logical rules, but then where the heck do the rampaging ghosts fit in? And time seems to run different from our world, except when it doesn't.

You will need to get all three books at once to have them make any sense. They do not stand alone. So (take a hint, publishers), when does the omnibus edition come out?

*The cover art on my edition is done by Larry Elmore, a really good black & white artist, and his color work is competently done. However, the overall impression screams cliché. That is all.

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