Chuck's Reviews > City of Sorcery

City of Sorcery by Marion Zimmer Bradley
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's review
Apr 16, 2009

really liked it

Completes the Renunciates series.

SPOILER ALERT--I will give away very specific information about the fate of characters; DO NOT READ if you DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS to JAELLE, MAGDA, and Cholayna.

I have to say that, initially, I thought this was a fairly typical "Quest Fantasy" book. Nothing wrong with that, and Bradley's stuff is always well done. Set about seven years after the events of Thendara House, It largely involves Magda and Jalle, who must venture to beyond the Wall Around The World, a remote mountain range past any known area on Darkover explored either by natives or Terrans. The reason for their journey is they are trying to rescue Rafaella, Jaelle's former business partner, and Lexi, a Terran who, feeling competitive with Magda, has ventured on the journey to gain glory and attention from her Terran superiors.

It did not help that Bradley kept doing the verbal equivalent of melodramatic off stage organ riffs--dun Dun DUNN! Saying, "Later she was to regret what she did" and things like that. The kind of stuff I equate with sloppy writing.

Accompanying Magda and Jaelle are two Terrans, Cholayna and Vanessa, and Camilla, an older Renunciate.

The journey is so well done, with so many suprises, that it doesn't feel like a traditional "Quest Fantasy" book. As always, Bradley writes great action, and her descriptions of mountain climbing and of long travels in the cold are so vivid they read almost like really engaging non-fiction.

But I still resisted, thinking it was a variation on a theme, thinking "I've read this book before. Bradley's doing a good job, but . . "

I NEVER expected her to kill of Jaelle, a main character, one we've known and loved almost since the beginning of the trilogy. Not in a million years. It's "set up," it makes heart sense, and her death is a vital part of the plot. But I was so blown away, both by Jaelle's death and by the end, that I have to say it's the best plotted book of the trilogy, and of all her works. Not the best book; the depth of character exploration that made me love Shattered Chain and Thendara House isn't as much in evidence, but in terms of plot--actual events--the book's dazzling.

I even came to wonder if the stuff I'd hated earlier--the "organ riffs" weren't intended to soften the blow to me as a reader when I "lose" Jaelle.

Of course, I read this novel the week my mother died, so my perspective might be off.

She woulda loved the Renunciate Trilogy, though.
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