Four Ways to Forgiveness, Ursula K Le Guin

Four Ways to Forgiveness, Ursula K Le Guin (1995)
Review by Aliette de Bodard

Four Ways to Forgiveness is a series of linked novellas set on the worlds of Werel and Yeowe: Werel, the older world, featured a slave-owner society, and set out to colonise Yeowe by sending colons and slaves – but the society that develops on Yeowe is deeply inequalitarian, leaving slave-women at the bottom of the heap even though they engineered the revolution that set Yeowean slaves free from their owners…
This is a fascinating look at revolution – at the inherent mess of it, at what it overturns, and at what it doesn’t. The plight of the women on both Werel and Yeowe is quite vividly rendered (and Le Guin doesn’t shy away from the sexual abuse such a rigidly gender-separated society would feature). There’s much much to like her, from her usual deft touch with characters, to her portrayal of oppression and how societies change both rapidly and slowly (and the afterword is fascinating because it reveals the depth of worldbuilding that went into the stories).

That said… I remain troubled by the cumulative portrayal of the Hain: they’re more technologically advanced, their embassies are the ultimate place of safety, and the Hain themselves either bring salvation by bypassing the rules of a rigid society (like Old Music) or by totally and whole-heartedly integrating into the society they’re sent to observe… It’s hard to read all this without seeing the analogue of Western countries in the Hain, just as the struggle of both Werel and Yeowe for a better régime is an analogue of decolonisation or other broadly similar processes countries in the developing world have gone through or are going through (see: Egypt and the Arab Spring, notably). And given all this, I’m a little bothered by this aspect of the novellas, which mostly fail to get to grips with the inherent neo-colonialism that motivates most of the Western intervention in developing countries – where is the greed, the agenda of spreading their own products/culture or of getting the resources they want? It feels a little… naive I guess, to imagine the Hain going to other planets and establishing embassies out of the goodness of their hearts, a little like a beautiful picture that doesn’t really hold up to either scrutiny or real-world comparisons? It’s not a deal-breaker, and I do recommend this book, but still… it’s a bit of a blot on it.

Also arguable, of course, is that the system presented here seems derived from a uniquely American model of slavery (the parallels to the plight of African-Americans are pretty clear), rather than tackling other forms of decolonisation with more complex models of oppression (it’s a very specific subset of American history, and that the First Nations oppression, for instance, isn’t broached either…). I don’t have a problem with this specific instance, per se, just that it’s struck me this is very often the only model used for colonisation. Indeed, it strikes me that Le Guin took a similar approach in The Word for World is Forest: the portrayal of colonisation as indentured slavery for the natives is one of the (many many) reasons I never felt that book’s stated parallels with Vietnam and the Vietnamese/American War to be really convincing.

This review originally appeared on Aliette de Bodard’s blog.


Angel with the Sword, CJ Cherryh

Angel with the Sword, CJ Cherryh (1985)
Review by Ian Sales

In a career so far spanning five decades, Carolyn Janice Cherry has managed to maintain both an enviable productivity with little or no loss of quality, and a future history comprising to date twenty-seven novels, seven anthologies, and a number of short stories. Angel with the Sword, however, is actually peripheral to the main history of Cherryh’s Alliance-Union universe.

Altair Jones is a “canaler” in the city of Merovingen on the world of Merovin. She is seventeen, an orphan, and very much the mistress of her own fate. Like all the canalers, she is dirt-poor, living a hand-to-mouth existence as she picks up work ferrying cargo around the canals of the city. When she witnesses a man being thrown from a bridge, she rescues him before he drowns and finds herself embroiled in a political struggle among the religions, political parties and plutocrats of Merovin.

There’s not much in Angel with the Sword itself which makes the story science fiction. Merovingen, a city which has been flooded so often and to such an extent that it has now become like Venice could just as easily be, well, Venice. And the politico-religious factions which drive the plot of the novel, while unique to it and connected to the Alliance and Union of Cherryh’s future history, aren’t actually necessary in that form for the story to work. But Cherryh chose to write Angel with the Sword as sf, and it’s proven a popular book in her oeuvre – perhaps as much for its setting as for its protagonist. I’ll freely admit it’s my favourite of her novels, and rereading it for review only reminded me how much charm it possesses.

There’s enough in the plot of Angel with the Sword to make sense of it, but Cherryh adds thirty-four pages of appendices and maps. These place the events in Merovingen in a planetary context, and the world of Merovin itself in a galactic context, as well as detailing flora, fauna, customs, dress, etc. Some six hundred years prior to the events of the story, Merovin was settled illegally by colonists from Union. All went well for a couple of decades, then the world’s former inhabitants, the sharrh, turned up and demanded the removal of the human colonists. Most left, but some ran to the hills – for reasons which probably owe more to a romanticised US pioneer spirit than any convincing in-universe rationale. The sharrh destroyed every human city on the planet and then left. The stay-behinds resettled the ruins, gradually rediscovered civilisation, and now operate the sort of low-tech libertarian paradise beloved by certain US sf authors, in which a fabulously wealthy upper class control everything and live the life of Riley on the backs of a much larger powerless and poor populace.

The man who falls from the bridge, Mondragon, is a member of the upper class from another city, and he used to be a member of a powerful politico-religious organisation. But he left them. And now he knows too many secrets. Factions in Merovingen, as well as his home city of Nev Hettek, are after him. Jones falls in love with him, and goes against all her instincts in helping him. When he is then kidnapped by one faction, she leads the canalers on a rescue mission.

There are problems with Angel with the Sword. There’s the society on Merovin, for a start. Six hundred years after the survivalists came down from the hills, you’d expect something a little more civilised than pure unregulated capitalism. It’s not as if the world suffers any kind of scarcity – the only thing that appears to be in short supply among the canalers is, well, money. In Merovingen, the strata of society are as much physical as they are social – the canalers live among the pilings of the buildings, down on the water. The rich live on the upper stories – and when Jones visits one such, a member of one of the city’s most powerful families, she is astonished at the luxury on display. The story also makes the repeated point that the various public institutions are corrupt and controlled by the richest and most powerful families.

And then there’s Altair Jones herself. She’s seventeen, tough, independent, resourceful… and a virgin when the story opens. It’s not stated how old Mondragon is, but he’s no teenager. Within a day of the rescue, they’ve had sex – and yet neither of their motives for doing so are really plausible. It’s almost as if it’s an expected consequence of the rescue. There’s also a disturbing lack of gender equality in the novel, despite it being supposedly set in the thirty-third century. According to one of the appendices, clothing on Merovin has “no particular gender distinction”, and it’s true that Jones wears trousers and sweater throughout the book… but it’s still very much a male-controlled society, and Jones is the only female character in the story with agency.

And yet, despite this romanticised Wild-West-in-Venice setting, Angel with the Sword continues to appeal. Jones is an engaging heroine, despite being exceptional within the world of the story. Merovingen is a fascinating place, despite being horribly unegalitarian and far from civilised. Angel with the Sword is a fun sf read, despite only being science fiction because Cherryh says in an appendix that it’s set in the thirty-third century. There’s much to dislike about the world Cherryh has created in this twenty-seven-year-old novel – though that doesn’t mean such worlds are not created in twenty-first century sf novels (and some of them even get shortlisted for major genre awards). In some respects, Angel with the Sword feels like a product of a decade earlier than its 1985 publication year, but it remains readable because of the quality of Cherryh’s prose, because it is tautly and relentlessly plotted and because it embodies the remorseless appeal of a romance novel.

And those anthologies mentioned at the beginning of this review? Angel with the Sword inspired a seven-book series, Merovingen Nights, containing stories by Cherryh herself, Lynn Abbey, Mercedes Lackey, Janet Morris, Robert Lynn Asprin, and others, all set in the titular city.

Star Hunter, Andre Norton

Star Hunter, Andre Norton (1961)
Review by Martin Wisse

For a lot of American science fiction fans my age or older, Andre Norton was the first “real” sf writer they ever read, largely because she was hugely prolific and specialised in what we’d now call young adult novels. For some reason however she was never all that popular in the Netherlands so I’ve read little of her work so far. But that’s changing, thanks to Project Gutenberg, who have a fair few of her books available, those on which the original US copyrights had not been renewed. Star Hunter is one of them, originally published as an Ace Double. I read it during a couple of lunch breaks at work.

Ras Hume is a pilot for the Out-Hunters Guild who on a trip to the newly discovered planet of Jumala has made a discovery that could make him incredibly rich, but to exploit it he needs to make a deal with Wass, the biggest crime boss on Nahuatl. What he found was the lifeboat from the Largo Drift, a space ship which disappeared six years ago, taking with it the heir to the Kogan estate. He also has a plausible candidate to play the part of Rynch Brodie, the teenage heir. What he needs Wazz for is to condition this boy to actually believe he is this heir, then he will be let lose on Jumala for Hume to discover him when he brings over the safari party he’s scheduled to pilot there. It’s an almost foolproof plan, surely nothing can go wrong.

But there wouldn’t have been a story if something didn’t go wrong. The patsy Hume has chosen, Vye Lansor, an orphan plucked from the foulest bar in Nahuatl’s spaceport, was conditioned and dropped on Jumala, but the condition wasn’t good enough and he remembers flashes from his true life. Worse, while Jumala was deemed fit for human visiting and free of intelligent alien life, something has been woken up by the safari party and Hume and Lansor/Brodie find themselves as grudging allies against this alien menace as this attempts to herd them towards imprisonment in the hills of Jumala.

Since Andre Norton has only ninety-six pages in which to tell her story, it obviously has to be tight. Which means that while we do get a resolution to the central plot line, the mystery of the aliens and why they attacked the safari party is never followed through. Hume and Lansor bond, fight their way out of the alien traps and survive and that’s it. A bit unsatisfactory, but not the end of the world.

In the same way, there’s little room to develop the settings, Nahuatl and Jumala, very much. Both are solid pulp sf settings, feel more like small towns than whole planets, but are deftly sketched in by Norton with a few neatly chosen details, especially Jumala. There are the watercats for example, dangerous aquatic ambush predators lurking in creeks and rivers, and the scavengers that come out of the water to finish off their kills – or the watercat, if it’s unlucky. Clearly some thought has gone into setting up the planet, even if it’s only a stage for a pulp adventure.

As science fiction Star Hunter is of course incredibly dated, of the rockets and blasters school of adventure sf. The scheme that drives its plot, to substitute some lookalike for the heir of a vast estate, has long ago been made impossible by the development of cheap DNA testing, while most of the technology on display that isn’t part of the standard sf furniture doesn’t really look all that advanced either. But these are just quibbles. Taken on its own terms, this is a tight, fun, enjoyable little story. Ideal for reading in some stolen moments at work…

This review originally appeared on Martin’s Booklog.

Star-Anchored, Star-Angered, Suzette Haden Elgin

Star-Anchored, Star-Angered, Suzette Haden Elgin (1979)
Review by Ian Sales

Elgin is perhaps best known as a science fiction poet, the founder of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and for the engineered language Láadan, which appears in her novel Native Tongue (1984) and its sequels. However, before both of those, she wrote a quintet of light-hearted space operas featuring the same central character in the same universe. Star-Anchored, Star-Angered is the fourth of these Coyote Jones books. The first, The Communipaths (1970), appeared as half of an Ace double, and the second, Furthest (1971), as an Ace Special, before Elgin moved across to DAW for the rest of the series.

Coyote Jones, the hero of Star-Anchored, Star-Angered, is an agent for the Tri-Galactic Intelligence Service. He is also mind-deaf. However, he is an extremely powerful mind-projector. He can’t hear, but he can shout really loudly. A new religion, the Shavvies, has appeared on the Novice Planet of Freeway, and the authorities of that world, who use tithing from the laity of the Old Faith to fund their upkeep, are getting worried. So they’ve asked the Tri-Galactic Council to intercede and send an agent to investigate the Shavvies’ leader, Drussa Silver, who apparently routinely performs miracles. Jones has been chosen for the mission, because his mind-deafness means he should be immune to any telepathic trickery Silver is using.

Disguised as a Student – there are only one thousand in the three galaxies, and they are much revered – Jones arrives on Freeway. The planetary set-up is explained to him, and then he goes off to infiltrate the Shavvies. His cover, however, is blown pretty much from the moment he arrived, but it doesn’t matter – the Shavvies welcome him anyway. An attempt to discredit him by drugging him and then putting him in a compromising position with the young daughter of one of the sector rulers fails as the daughter is far too sensible to fall for it or play along. Jones meets Silver and demands she show him a miracle to prove her bona fides. She does. He immediately realises she truly is divine and converts to the Shavvies.

Jones’ presence on Freeway was all part of a plot by a secret cabal of Freeway rulers. First they exacerbated the situation on their world in order to prompt TGIS involvement. Then they had hoped that Jones would arrest Silver and take her back to Mars-central for indictment. En route, she would be assassinated and the TGIS blamed. Once that plan falls apart, they try something different – and yet something that is likely all too familiar to most western readers.

Star-Anchored, Star-Angered is for much of its length light, almost humourous, in tone. Jones arrives at a university asteroid, where he will be briefed on his cover. Student garb exists solely of fake tattoos in the form of fauna and flora:

“If you think I’m strangely dressed, Citizen, you should see some of the others.”
“It doesn’t bother you to have a bee crawling up your penis?”
“What bee?”
Coyote pointed.
“That’s only a tattoo, Citizen, it’s not alive.” (p 8)

The tone remains once Jones arrives on Freeway – his arrival is comic, the world’s faux mediaeval society is shown to be more Disney than Middle Ages, and the various characters he meets are very broadly drawn.

But there are hints throughout Star-Anchored, Star-Angered that more is going on than just a humorous space opera story. It not simply that the final third of the novel positions Silver as a Christ-like figure, and even tries for a Judas-like betrayal. Each chapter is headed by excerpts from “external” texts, ranging from invented nursery rhymes to a poem by “s.e.” (Suzette Elgin, one imagines) to various passages from scholarly works. One of the latter is taken from Woman Transcendent by Ann Geheygan – a book which also features in a chapter of the story – and it discusses “surpassment”:

The state of surpassment, in which the spirit moves beyond its ancient boundaries and can no longer be affected by fear or pain or any other illusory perception, comes only with great difficulty to the male human … It is no wonder, therefore, that primitive man in his consuming jealousy of the ease with which the female could achieve what he did only so rarely and so painfully, did everything he could to conceal her natural abilities away for all time. (p 113)

While never categorically stated, it seems clear that Silver has attained this state (as had rare male messiahs in human history). Unfortunately, the idea is not really explored in Star-Anchored, Star-Angered – perhaps too deep an exploration of it would have sat at odds with the light-hearted tone of the rest of the novel. The ending, however, is far from cheery – Silver is killed but her murderer, who was intended by the cabal to be seen as a conquering messiah, chooses instead a life of penance.

On the strength of Star-Anchored, Star-Angered, I’m not really surprised Elgin’s Coyote Jones series has languished in obscurity for the past three decades. Having said that, worse books than this one have remained popular, or been judged sf “classics”, for much longer. Star-Anchored, Star-Angered is a light, fun sf novel which perhaps doesn’t quite know whether it really should be so light, but is nevertheless an entertaining read.

The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey

The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey (1969)
Review by Admiral Ironbombs

Anne McCaffrey is best known for her extensive Pern world, a series that joined a hard-SF background with dragons and a touch of romance. Her second-most-popular, more science-fiction-themed work was the Brainship series: a malformed human girl is turned into the cyborg brain of a starship. The series began as a group of short stories before the eventual novels, and it became the one McCaffrey was most proud of, which should say a lot – it’s one of her best remembered creations.

‘The Ship Who Sang’ (Fantasy & SF, Apr 1961)
The first story has a genuine and poignant idea at its core: placing a crippled and disfigured infant, encased in a cybernetic shell, as an organic brain for a starship. The Brain, as it were, partnered with a human Brawn to go forth and perform complex adventures among the stars. It provides an eternal, mechanical protagonist who is still very human, dealing with complex human emotions and problems. The first story ends on a sad note, with the ship’s Brawn dying in the line of duty; this grief is something Helva will have to overcome in the later stories. If the story wasn’t just 18 pages it could have been a knockout, but that brevity leaves it too short and rushed. It’s still very good, working on a great SF idea.

‘The Ship Who Mourned’ (Analog, Mar 1966)
‘The Ship Who Killed’ (Galaxy Magazine, Oct 1966)

I lump these two together because they have the same general theme and arc: Helva is assigned a temporary Brawn who, as luck would have it, has to overcome the same issues as Helva during a trip related to their crises. The first teams grief-stricken Helva up with Theodra, aging grief-stricken survivor of a planetary plague. Theodra lost her entire family to the plague, being one of the few with natural immunities. Their mission: save planets now infected by newer, similar plagues, something Theodra has studied since losing her family.

The second gives a still somewhat grief-stricken Helva with Kira, another depressive Brawn, this time one who lost a male acquaintance/husband and survived an attempted suicide. Oh, and Kira was left barren earlier in life; their mission? Hauling frozen embryos in a “Stork Run” to repopulate a planet. Kira’s also a practicing Dylanist, defined as someone who makes social commentary and promotes world-views via acoustic guitar and singing. (Science fiction enthusiasts have always lauded the “prophetic” nature of the genre; stories like this one show that SF works are more often a reflection of their era rather than grandiose future prophecy. Because, really, “Dylanism” is so very ’60s.)

A little melodramatic, perhaps; at the least, more so than the original tale. Both are longer than the original, and thus more developed; that’s a good thing, as is the further development of Helva (and her successive Brawns) as characters.

‘Dramatic Mission’ (Analog, Jun 1969)
Helva, still without a permanent Brawn, is roped into ferrying a cast of actors. See, this new race of aliens are offering an exchange: some fantastic new ways to modulate and harness power in exchange for olden Earth dramas. Helva’s passengers is a Shakespeare troupe, with a dying leading man who needs zero-gravity to survive, and includes a catty Juliet to promote plenty of infighting. Oh, and the actors must undergo the aliens’ consciousness-switching techniques to survive in their chlorine atmosphere to perform the play. And that includes Helva, when she’s roped into becoming a supporting actress.

The first long tale in this collection, ‘Dramatic Mission’ is a novella that earned nominations for both the Hugo and the Nebula. Helva’s characterization continues, though she takes a back-seat to much of the human drama until Helva reveals she studied Shakespeare as a hobby back in her formative years. Because of this, the story is more of a human one, because of the human frailties and pettiness exposed by the actors. While somewhat predictable, it’s also the most interesting and enjoyable of the stories so far, with enough length to develop the plot and characters.

‘The Ship Who Dissembled’ (If, Mar 1969)
Another short one, but I think it’s the closest in this collection to fully realizing the series’ potential, using all the disparate elements to make a rounded tale. There’s the inevitable human angle between Helva and her Brawn, butting heads over the topic of disappearing Brainships. This leads to some interesting debates about their nature… though it’s a bit one-sided, since Helva’s Brawn is a machine-like tool who thinks the ships are inept machines, hence the need for human partners. She’s on the verge of sacking him, fine be damned, until she’s kidnapped by the same creeps responsible for the other four missing Brainships… some fringe weirdo who wants a collection of these “obscenities”.

So, some examination of the Brainships’ nature, the continuing look into Helva’s life and Brain-Brawn relations, and a kidnapping adventure, that flow together and make a balanced story. Again, it’s a bit short, but connections to both the preceding and following stories makes it feel like part of a larger whole than a short snippet existing within a void. This would be my favorite of the collection.

‘The Partnered Ship’
The other stories were building up to this one, connecting the various magazine stories together to arrive here, at the finale, written specifically for the collection’s book publication.

Having finally paid off her debt to the government, Helva returns to base for refitting and to be officially released into freedom. Her mind still wanders back to her first Brawn, since she’s fixating on her ability as a free agent to choose her next one – she’s looking for a permanent partner, not another temp, someone she likes and can rely on for the foreseeable future. (This flies directly in the “conventional” brainship wisdom, when one of them contacts her via comms and advises her to get a constant rotation of Brawns to fit the profile of whatever profitable missions she picks up.) Helva here is both at her weakest and at her girliest, pining over her lost love while looking forward to nonexistent future Brawns like she’s comparing bowls of porridge or glass slippers. Until she realizes the perfect Brawn has been hiding right under her nose the whole time: the supervisor who’s been aggravating her the last few stories.

Well, maybe it’s not as romantic as I played it out, since she chooses him after he tries to maneuver her into another long-term contract with the government, dangling a possible FTL (faster-than-light) drive as bait. In a fit of revenge, she picks him; he flees after revealing his fascination with her, rationalizing that he can’t partner with Helva because he’ll inevitably want to crack open her shell and see what the real Helva looks like. (I’m sure some people think this is romantic, but it sounds pretty creepy to me.)

Truth be told, not a lot happens here – the big problem of having a ship as a character means a lot can go on around and even in that character, but things turn into a lot of internalized pondering, or talking with people who are a bit more mobile than a shell person. Still, that doesn’t make it bad, just a bit awkward. It’s a nice story that takes the Brainship stories to the next logical step, bringing earlier plot elements together and binding them together. Not a bad tale, but more of a bridge to future stories than a story all of its own, leaving things without a definite conclusion.

The first story is good, and introduces a load of great ideas, but too short to be meaningful. The second two were too melodramatic for me; the series leans towards romance with its premise. But even then, their brevity prevented any emotional investment. ‘Dramatic Mission’ is the first long tale in the collection, one in which Helva’s role is diminished in the bigger picture, and I thought it was the closest the stories had come to fully realizing their potential thus far; ‘Dissembled’ continues the trend, juggling many themes of humanity in a brief story. ‘The Partnered Ship’ brings back many plot elements introduced in earlier stories, binding them together and preparing for Helva’s future; it’s the most personal in terms of relating to Helva and her goals, but became awkward when the plot turned into “Helva talks to people and her Brawn runs around”.

McCaffrey is a good, but not excellent, writer; she has some sloppy turns of phrase now and again, though her characters and dialogue are both strong and realized. I felt the setting had a lot of potential, but because of the short-story nature, it’s left underdeveloped, and after the first one it shows up on a “what’s necessary to this story” basis – tidbits of an interesting setting that grows with each story. It wasn’t until the third one that I found out these Brainships have to save up and pay off all their costs of training and maintenance – wait, so they’re taking handicapped people, making them into ships, and then charging them for this service? Fining them when they rotate out a Brawn they hate? I could understand the kind of compulsory duty-service that many real-life countries practice, but really, this is worse than college loans.

And while the idea of taking handicapped people and using them as spaceships is amazing, I don’t feel it was dealt with to the degree it could have. The ships are adamant they’re getting the better half of the deal, since they can do things normal people can’t – flying through space is indeed pretty damn cool. But what about the human angle? The inability to touch, or love, somebody – that lack of physicality – shouldn’t that crop up given the romance angle, the constant look-but-don’t-touch impersonal relationship Helva’s stuck with for all her Brawns? (Something that’s given lip service in ‘Dramatic Mission’; yet Helva’s dogmatic answers don’t seem to convince the other characters.) Considering the Brain/Brawn partnership falls somewhere between “college roommates” and “marriage” on the relationship scale, I would have liked to have seen it tackled in more depth.

Similarly, how about the moral, ethical choices for using the disabled: the first story mentions that activists questioned the morals behind the Brainships, but that thread is forgotten by that story’s end. Making the handicapped into a cross between civil servants and semi trucks under corporate servitude drew some criticism from disability rights advocates in recent years. I have the feeling that McCaffrey could have preempted this criticism had she approached the topic in-depth within the stories. Helva does have a point that this life offers many benefits, though it’s defeated by the ordeals she’s forced to overcome, such as the debt – this society requires its handicapped to pay to live, not as a person but as a brainship, something I find morally questionable. Are they really “empowering” these handicapped persons by forcing them into a life of servitude? Society’s view of the handicapped has changed, leaving us with a lot of loaded, heavy questions.

But to be honest, the topic is too much of a downer; McCaffrey wrote fun speculative fiction with upbeat, romantic ideals, not scathing psychological discourses or deep examinations of the human spirit. I don’t think it’s a road McCaffrey would ever go down.

I can see why these stories are so beloved and popular, with a large fan-base, though they didn’t quite win me over. Yes, having different opinions about disabilities my opinion, as does McCaffrey’s pre-woman’s lib look at female empowerment/emancipation, which is a can of worms I’m reluctant to open since I’m already soap-boxing about the handicapped. Let’s just say I liked their optimism and creativity, but found their views outdated – and they’re too flowery, a bit too romantic for my tastes.

I did find several of them quite enjoyable, but they didn’t thrill me into running out and buying more McCaffrey. Many of the themes and elements McCaffrey introduces are fantastic, and as a whole the book has merit. As stories, they will fulfill, doubly so if you like characters with strong personalities and feelings. As historical artifacts, they’re an neat look back at ideas people had in the 1960s. As great science fiction… I’ve read better. Recommended for McCaffrey fans, and people who look for romanticism in their reading choices.

This review originally appeared on Battered, Tattered, Yellowed & Creased.