Lynne's Reviews > A Man Rides Through

A Man Rides Through by Stephen R. Donaldson
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May 18, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Recommended to Lynne by: my husband found it in the Science Fiction book club we were in
Recommended for: smart fantasy and romance fans
Read in January, 1986 , read count: 8 or so

Terisa has been taken prisoner, Geraden's brother has been taken prisoner (read the book; I promise it will make sense--there are just too many plot threads to do justice to them here).

BUT. . . Terisa has discovered she has talent with mirrors too. And she's left behind the strange attraction to power that was her crush on one of the masters of imagery, an attraction which nearly broke her spirit.

Romance fans, this is also a love story. Forget Edward Cullen and his sparkly marble perfection (and his control-freakish possessiveness--see my Twilight reviews); Geraden of Domne is one of my literary hero crushes for life. Terisa's other discovery, finally, is her love for Geraden. I told you I wanted to bitch-slap her the entire first half of The Mirror of Her Dreams for many reasons including ignoring the ideal man standing in front of her. Once their story takes off, Donaldson handles this beautifully, never slopping over into mush or sentimentality. He writes their love scenes differently than the other sex scenes in the book, showing the difference between true love and exploitation, between true love and merely "scratching an itch." And Geraden and Terisa's talents and self-confidence seem to grow exponentially as their love for each other grows.

Another of my gripes about the Twilight series is that the happy ending was too pat, too easy. You see, I'd read Mordant's Need first, and Meyer's crap "love story" pales in comparison. Bella's use of her "love shield" (what a stupid name--it sounds more like a brand of condom to me) was actually a small factor in the Cullens' victory, the larger one being, once again, intervention by Alice and Jasper. Nobody has grown up by the end of Meyer's 2000 or however many pages she filled with utter ballocks.

By contrast, Terisa and Geraden endure hardship and real danger as they race against time. The horrors being translated into Mordant are becoming more frequent and more dangerous; not only do they have to find out who's behind the attacks, they also have to gather support from the leaders of the seven Cares within the kingdom to help them fight these men who are misusing their power. In other words, Terisa and Geraden actually earn their happy ending, and it wasn't through forty mind-numbing pages trying to be the trial in The Merchant of Venice. There is a battle--a real one, with catapults and armor and arrows and soldiers on horseback. And Imagery. And lasers. Yup, lasers. Read the books.

Donaldson keeps all the balls in the air in these two novels. Magic, intrigue, politics, danger, sex, power, humor, love. . . it's all there. The other amazing accomplishment here is Donaldson's ability to write from a female perspective. I don't think he could create a cardboard female character if he tried.

Donaldson's prose is more spare than in the Thomas Covenant books, so if you tried to read those and gave up, give these a try. The guy's amazing. His "Gap" series was voiced differently than the "Mordant" books, and his series of detective novels were different from any of his fantasy and science fiction.

If the Twilight books are Twinkies, full of fluffy creme and artificial ingredients, then the Mordant books are tarte tropezienne, a French pastry crafted in small artisan bakeries in the charming coastal city of St. Tropez, France. As with the much-imitated-but-never-duplicated Harry Potter series, there are at least a dozen vampire series for young adults out there at the moment, trying to cash in on the current Twilight mania, but nobody has tried to imitate any of Donaldson's work. It's just too difficult to write with that amount of precision and care. Most "authors" are just too lazy or not sufficiently dedicated to their craft. Donaldson agonizes over every word. His ideas are original enough that it would be obvious any other writer was stealing from him. He is currently working on the last four books of the Thomas Covenant series. He had the ideas for them back when he finished the second trilogy but didn't feel that his skills as a writer were equal to the story he wanted to tell. So he waited 20 years and wrote two books of short stories and three other series before going back to The Land. In this "make a fast buck and who cares if it's any good as long as it sells" publishing climate, integrity like Donaldson's is rare.




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05/02/2016 marked as: read

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