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Mists Of Everness by John C. Wright

01/08/2005. Contributed by Donna Jones

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pub: TOR. 352 page hardback. Price: $25.95 (US), $35.95 (CAN). ISBN: 0-765-31333-2.

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The world has changed for the worse. Where once there was light and hope, there now sits a darkness with a familiar facade. The Guardians of Everness must find a way to stop the massed forces from taking control of the waking world.

Where Raven wields the weather with the Ring of Niflungar and his wife, the possessor of magics unknown, stands by his side. The Waylocks, all three generations of them, must once again stand together with these unusual modern day heroes and fight for the good of mankind and keep their promise to stand ready for the battle that will inevitably ensue.

The sealmen selkies have taken over the forms of men in Congress (maybe a little too near the knuckle, Mr Wright?) and the US Navy finds itself all at sea with a very different kind of enemy.

Now to get this review within the realms of some context, I would like to draw your attention to part of my character. I am easily pleased. For example, I recently got my heart jumping and girly giggles issuing from my lips when I found a pair of Dr M's with a suitably outrageous paint job and an unusual leather upper colour. I'll reiterate that for anyone who missed it. I got excitable like a child at Christmas for cowhide upper and AirWair Bouncing soles! So, in the grand scheme of things I don't wander into the parkland of boredom casually.

That said, I was bored senseless within relatively few pages of reading this book. The words 'Shoot me now!' glanced passer-by with an assassins accuracy and I found myself daydreaming about anything but what I was actually reading. In the cover flap, the book is cited as 'A stirring epic that will inspire readers everywhere.' To do what exactly? Find a pillow and duvet maybe? Go to sleep?

The first book in this series had a few flaws. The schizophrenic nature of the books genre bothered me. Was it an urban fantasy? Was it an epic fantasy? Was it trying to be both? While this doesn't sound like the makings of a serious fault, it is. There is an awful lot of diversity between the two and mixing the genres to this extent leaves me cold. In this second book, that problem has taken on its own evil laugh, particularly when there is an appendix in the back of the book, more on that little gem later.

There were glimmers of hope in the first. The character of Wendy came across as a highly interesting individual that acted outside of the box but due to overmastering of the plot she sadly has died from needing a personality transplant and a giggle-gag.

Characters engaged in political discussions and rallied opinions of current affairs that just appeared out of place and unnecessary to the storyline. Wright seems dead set for letting us know where he stands in his own free America, but I don't think it's an appropriate step to let loose with your libertarian stand-point in a fantasy novel. I mean I admit that I am standing on a soap-box every time I share my thoughts with you all but please, enough already, with the dictatorial diatribe, we get it. Honest we do, some of us even agree.

Drawing from the experience of many characters you could find yourself with a rich tapestry of life. Unfortunately, as I referred to earlier it results in an appendix of family history. Merlin begets Alfcynnig, he begets Lohort and so on infinitum. Exactly why is this necessary? There are fantasy novels that require the reader to be given all the information. I can think of one that is based on Eastern legend and religion which needs an appendix to explain the terminology. But in this instance all we achieve here is a list of names and dates when they were Wardens of Everness, it's a bit of much of a muchness.

I'm getting to the point where I am turning blue in the face about expositional writing. It's becoming an epidemic which needs spraying with Weedol or Roundup. While the fantasy readership is a little odd at times, I'm sure most of us have some semblance of intellect. We can be shown rather than told. Part of taking on the role of reader requires the use of the ol'imagination muscle. Apparently not, somehow this book tries to shove as much information into its pages that I wonder if it isn't a textbook on fantasy. Where's the enjoyment in that?

These root problems, like nagging toothache, haven't gone away. They've just got more chronic in the second volume. So as I climb down off my incredibly high soap-box, taking care not to scuff my boots, I bid you goodnight and yes, I will be wearing them in bed tonight. Pleasurable footwear can be enjoyed under the covers - as can a good book, as long as you have a suitable torch that doesn't require naked flames!

Donna Jones

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