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The Weavers Of Saramyr

by Chris Wooding

(Gollancz, 10.99, 375 pages, trade paperback, also available in hardback priced 17.99, published 29 May 2003. Mass market paperback: Gollancz, 6.99, 440 pages, published 8 April 2004.)

Chris Wooding would appear to be a rising star of fantasy. Author of several young adult novels--one award-winning--he plays cover scanguitar in a touring band, is only 25, and doubtless is suave and good looking also. Probably he is rich, of above average height, and has no enemies of note. (I'm extrapolating here from the adulatory press material.) But I digress. The matter in hand is the first volume of his new adult work, the Braided Path trilogy, this volume being The Weavers Of Saramyr.

In the intrigue-laden world of Saramyr, the creepy Weavers joust with one another to control events, their most important task being to ensure the destruction of all human beings with magical powers--the Aberrant. Anybody showing Aberrancy must be killed. Unfortunately, the eight year old daughter of the current Empress has shown special powers, and when the Empress declares that her daughter must be considered her heir a chain of events is set in motion that embroils many people. Meanwhile, the land of Saramyr is suffering from a malaise that perverts the forms and lives of animals, creating repulsive monsters. Worse, there are demons about.

This is an intensely imagined world with many original and delightful aspects: the demonic shin-shin, the vile Weavers, the monsters, even the weather. Many of the main characters are interesting and have potential for development. The only problem lies with the writing. Too many pages read like descriptions cut-and-pasted from the author's notebooks, and there are far too many words ending in -ly. To take examples chosen at random: 'permanently tired and weary,' 'she unconsciously changed herself slightly,' and 'disappeared entirely.' Bleurgh.

But at least this author has avoided the usual fantasy cliches; with this new work he shows considerable promise. The stodge needs to be reduced, though--and I think I can hear somebody saying, "Show not tell."

Review by Stephen Palmer.

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