BPAL of the Day: The Lilac Wood
Like 'Suldrun's Garden' ‘The Green Pearl’ was a rather slow starter that bogged down in too much politics at the beginning. Only this time the politics were unrelieved by the somewhat more interesting aspect of Suldrun’s plight. Had this been the first book I doubt I’d have kept reading long enough for things to change. (Which would have been a DREADFUL shame!!) As I mentioned even Shimrod, whom I love passionately and dearly, frustrated me to no end with his insistence on throwing his wonderful wit and intellect away for the sake of (essentially) an amoral, perverse little glorified magical sex doll created by a bitter witch in revenge against all of the male gender. That he KNEW the ‘woman’ Melancthe was sent to befuddle him and keep him from his duties by his enemy made it worse. I only did not lose all respect for him because she exercises some sort of glamour over him and his inherent optimism and romantic nature led him to believe he could somehow ‘save’ her while also playing out his erotic fantasies.
Anyway… After the political wrangling inherent in securing his rule over South Ulfland and war against the invading Ska, King Aillas manages to capture a highborn Ska lady named Tatzel. Aillas had become infatuated with Lady Tatzel when he was captured by the Ska and forced to work as their slave during his adventures in the previous book. He decides to teach her a little lesson about slavery by calling her a slave and forcing her to travel with him. Of course Aillas is too inherently noble to do much more than make her cook dinner for them while he sets up camp and make an idle threat or two. He even saved her honor when she thought that two outlaws made for better travelling companions than himself. Aillas may be a good king but he was a poor slave driver! I don’t know exactly what he expected of their association or really what it accomplished. She was willing enough to sleep with him by the end of their travels but in the end he chooses against it and hands Lady Tatzel back to her father utterly untouched. Perhaps that fact helped him with the Ska? It didn’t really seem like that, though. It may simply be that he needed to put aside his infatuation with her. Much as Shimrod needed to put aside his infatuation with Melancthe. The only way for then to get over it was to go through with it.
Aillas secures his military victories and returns home in very high spirits. Only to find that Glyneth, who had been living at Aillas’ palace as his ward, had disappeared.
Shimrod first heard of Glyneth’s disappearance from Melancthe. She was sent again by the evil wizard Tamurello to incite Shimrod and make him do something (else) stupid. Shimrod learns that the perverted Visbhume, a low-level mage with a penchant for performing vile acts upon young women in particular, has taken Glyneth into an alternate world known as Tanjecterly. He contacts his master Murgen before running off to Tanjecterly and the three- Shimrod, Aillas and Dhrun go to Swer Smod where Murgen lives. Murgen works on a plan to retrieve Glyneth without any of the three trapping themselves in Tanjecterly. Murgen creates a being made out of the stuff of a beast-man of Tanjecterly and a pirate from a far moon of Arcturus named ‘Kul the Killer.’ Inside this body must go the blood and spirit of someone who loves Glyneth. All three of them- Shimrod, Dhrun and Aillas- love her in their own way. Murgen decides it is Aillas who has the qualities necessary for survival in the strange and hostile world of Tanjecterly, as well as the necessary quality of love for Glyneth. The deed is done and the creature is sent into Tanjecterly.
Glyneth follows a strange butterfly into a hut wherein the gateway to Tanjecterly opens up and swallows her. She finds herself in a world with two suns and a black moon with blue grass, trees in every color of the rainbow and very strange beings… and of course the horrid Visbhume, who shows her what she can expect by first molesting a flower and then a bird. She manages to escape Visbhume by stabbing him in the face with his stiletto. She gets a goodly distance but is caught by a group of goblin eels when back comes Visbhume. Things could have gone badly for Glyneth then if it were not for Murgen’s creation Kul, who comes along to rescue her.
After that Glyneth and Kul capture and threaten Visbhume and force him to tell them how to leave Tanjecterly. They have to travel a long way and have many harrowing adventures through a dangerous and fantastical landscape. The ending is very satisfying.
I didn’t even get in to the story of the Green Pearl itself. It is the condensed evil essence of Faude Carfilhiot and brings a wide assortment of people to grief. It eventually ends up buried in the forest with the remains of one of its victims it causes very strange and malevolent seeming flowers to grow. The flowers attract Carfilhiot’s ‘sister’ Melancthe. The pearl manages to wreak as much havoc for the bad guys as it did for the innocent bystanders before the end.
It was sluggish at the beginning but once Glyneth went to Tanjecterly I could hardly stop reading. It was unusual, intense, exciting, compelling and awesome in every way.
Overall rating: ****1/2 Stars.
More reviews tomorrow!