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This novel revolves around the bond between Rodvard Bergelin, a lowly court clerk, and Demoiselle Lalette Asterhax, a young and impetuous witch. With the exception of the worthless pro- and epi- bookends of some old codgers pontificating about parallel universes, the story is set in a quasi-medival world where magic has replaced gunpowder as the winner's coveted technology. This is not an S & S saga. There is no hero's quest, dragons, or Gollum-like creatures. Nor is it “epic fantasy”, teeming with grand battles between shiny-armored knights governed by bejeweled royalty crowded majestically into moated castles on a Arthurian landscape. Our characters are mainly just common folk, admittedly served up cold into the machinations of the High Centers, but simply trying to be comfortable, well-fed, and loved.

The Blue Star is a talisman given by a witch to her lover that allows him to see through the eyes and into the minds of fellow humans. It is a magical instrument of truth that Rodvard acquires from Lalette by treachery. He is a member of the Sons of a New Day, an underground group of revolutionaries trying to disinter the present court of ruling Royalty by using his Blue Star's force to reveal the true and hidden motivations of high politicians to use against them. It is all very modern thinking, for, information is power. The ideology of the rebels is to re-distribute the wealth and right the inequalities, so that men “do not obtain their possessions by being born into them” (Ballantine AF series, 01602, c. 1969, p.187). And, just as the insurgents share the same lofty goals of all oppressed people throughout time, they also suffer the same flaws of corruption and greed once authority is in their grasp.

Rodvard soon discovers the Blue Star is as much of a curse as a treasure. He selfishly falls into unfaithful congress once he's away from Lalette and the jewel loses all potency. Explosive and emotional Lalette denounces him and sets out on her own adventure, ending up in a foreign land under the domination of the ruling religious sect. Rodvard is forced to flee his native land of Dossola also. He ends up in Mancherei and is rather dubiously re-united with Lalette. Amidst the background of revolution, all ends well except for the Blue Star, which unceremoniously gets tossed into the river.

The strengths of the novel are many. Although it gets prosaic and incomprehensible at times—“that it could not be altogether a matter of man's justice, which was the plainder… since no justice of man's would hold men from fiery passion” (Ibid, p.91)—the prose style, with its original wordings and juxtapositional sentence structures, adds a mystification to the reading that sweeps through the imagination and lends credence to the atmosphere. The opposing themes of betrayal and honesty, treachery and loyalty, and lechery and love are thoroughly fashioned, as are the likeable characters of Rodvard and Lalette.

 

8/9/2005

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