May 21, 2004

The Veil of the Thousand Tears, by Eric Van Lustbader

Here's the second in Lustbader's current series, the Saga of the Pearl.

In the last episode, the Dar-al-Salat, the savior of Kundala, was saved from death by a dangerous ritual performed by Giyan the Ramahan sorceress. The ritual was successful, but since then Giyan has been afflicted by a horrible skin condition on her hands and forearms. In this book we discover that through an error in the ritual she made an opening through which the archdaemon Horologgia has been able to begin escaping from the Abyss. Worse, the archdaemon intends to take over Giyan's body--and, ultimately, all of her sorcerous powers. The Dar-al-Salat must find the Veil of Thousand Tears, a relic of the creation of the planet Kundala, to save Giyan from daemonic possession--for without Giyan the Dar-al-Salat won't be able to free the planet from the scourge of the V'orrn.

It's yet another fine piece of storytelling, even if the premise and the execution are sometimes a little goofy. The characters develop in interesting ways, and we find out more about the V'orrn, and in particular about the Gyrgon. The V'orrn have a caste-based society, and the Gyrgon--a caste of genetically-engineered cyborgs--are the top caste. They are greatly feared by the other castes, and are rarely seen in public, ruling primarily through the Regent, the leader of the Bashkir, or merchant, class. Little is known about the Gyrgon, but we get to learn quite a bit more here, and much that was obscure in the previous book is made clear.

Perhaps the most satisfying thing is that both this book and its predecessor have been properly structured; each book really is a complete novel by itself. All too often in multi-volume fantasy sagas it's all one long story chopped arbitrarily into volumes. Instead, each of these books has its own particular conflict which it tracks from beginning to end. Nicely done.

Posted by Will Duquette at May 21, 2004 05:34 PM