Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dragons and Halflings

Night's Daughter
by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Genre; Fiction/Fantasy/Gothic
Publisher; Orbit/London/1985
Pages; 204
ISBN; 0-7221-1958-5

Plot; Pamina is the daughter of the all powerful sorceress, the Starqueen, ruler of all lands of the night. She has lead a sheltered and protected life of luxury, never wanting for anything, never in harms way. Or so she thought.

Soon to come in to Pamina's life is her long lost and unknown father Sarastro, King of the Royal House of the Sun. Sarastro has been at war with the Starqueen since the birth of their daughter and has been kept from his daughter. The Starqueen has long spoken ill of the king to Pamina, brainwashing her with tales of sacrifices and evil priests.

As Pamina is kidnapped from her mother's palace and taken to the lands of her Father, is it such a bad thing to be taken from the treacherous talons of her mother?

With her lover, Prince Tamino, by her side, Pamina must not only face the Court of Wisdom and the Ordeals of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, she must also face the decision of which parent she will follow. Which parent is of truth and honour.

My Thoughts; This story is marketed as "a shimmering fantasy of music and magic", and this is exactly what you get. A Gothic story of chivalrous men, mystical women and magic flute music.

I cannot say I didn't like this story, but I cannot say I liked it either. While I enjoyed some aspects of the story, I was totally confused by others.

The general feel of the tale is enjoyable, don't get me wrong, and it would make a good weekend read. But if you are looking for something more in depth and intense, move along.

The characters are well shaped, if not typical for this kind of story; Prince Tamino is the pampered prince who finds his own strength, Pamina is the damsel in distress who discovers she is not so helpless after all, the Starqueen is the evil sorceress and King Sarastro is the kind and worldly king.

The character, for me, who really made this story is Papageno, the bird halfling. Half man, half bird and all over comedic relief. At times this story became too dark and depressing (and repetitive) and at all those times Papageno would appear with a funny commentary. Why fight a dragon when you can sit and eat cake?

I am not going to say this story is anywhere in the league of Marion Zimmer Bradley's other books, such as The Mists of Avalon or Witchlight, but if you are a Bradley fan it is a good, quick read to add to your collection. On the other hand, if you are not a Bradley fan or are unfamiliar with Bradley's books, this is not the book for you. Either grab one of her other, riveting, reads or head for another author.

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Happy Reading!

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