You who shall come after us, take warning!
So…it’s rare that you find a work that aligns exactly to your tastes, interests, current obsessions, and feelings. This novella, for me, ranks closely with the Leigh Brackett-written movie, Hatari, starring John Wayne and Elsa Martinelli. That had animals, comradeship, outdoor work, truck driving, shooting, a smattering of romance, humor, adventure, and baby elephants. It’s one of the movies I watch all the way through with complete attention whenever I happen to start it up.
This one? This one has tigers, wolves, horses, eagles–wolves with the intelligence of men and the ferocious loyalty of warriors, tigers with the cunning and strength of, well, intelligent talking tigers, and horses who get two of the most badass and most emotionally-resonant scenes in the story. (Lets just say–remember the Charge of the Talking Horses in The Last Battle? In this one, they actually win.)
And, slowest to speak their piece and holding the final say in many decisions, there are the wise, far-sighted, clear-thinking Eagles. There are secret valleys, forbidden caverns, ancient treasure, lost technology and stolen artifacts.
It’s also set in China, which is *cough* relevant to my current obsessions, at least.
It’s written with effortless, vivid, swift-moving prose, a bravura style and epic tone. The plot is straight out of the Talbot Mundy school of pulp adventure, but the writing is not. It’s hard to pin down the exact genre of this story, but I finally did: it’s a planetary romance…set on Earth.
– Plot: ….It would kind of ruin things if I described the plot, and it’s not very important anyway.
– Characters: in proper sf style, the best-developed characters aren’t the humans. I will say though: pulp adventure heroes tend not to get a lot of character development, though this one does–starting out as a jaded mercenary, and learning the error of his ways, until he is accepted into the Brotherhood–and worthily so.
In short: I loved this one and it kind of rocked.