Looking back through my notes on this one, it appears that my initial reaction to this novel was:
All joking aside, that addition to the story was actually pretty great as far as fantasy creatures go. My prior experience with unicorns is effectively zero (actually it is zero) so I was (and still am) interested to see where that piece of the story goes and how it will develop.
Anyway, before I get into the meat of the review I’ll give you a quick set up of the story so you can decide whether or not you might be interested in reading further. Essentially, our main character, George or “Georj” as most of the other characters call him, is an ordinary Archeologist (for the future anyway) concerned with seemingly ordinary archeological problems (dating the site, continuing funding etc.) when he stumbles across a magic gate which transports him through time and possibly to another planet.
In this time (or on this planet) magic is an important part of the society, its cultural hierarchy/power structure etc. George and his computer, shaped like a large walking staff, must navigate through this new world, learn and use magic, and fight the attempts of an evil elf king to thwart their movements and destroy the world as we know it!
Not just another day at the dig site huh?
Highmage’s Plight is interesting in a variety of ways. First, in some aspects Highmage’s Plight functions as a normal story. It has characters and plot, a climax etc. However, this isn’t the whole story. It is actually meant to be an interactive, or perhaps ‘intra-active’ series in which fans and other story tellers alike can make decisions about the plot, and imbue the characters with their own individual spirit and personality. I’m hosting the author, D.H. Aire, on the site Friday and we’re going to discuss the process some more, so make sure to stop by then as well. In the mean time, you can take look at it yourself at DHR2Believe.net It’s pretty cool.
The second is in the way the story’s world is structured. Magic and technology compete in stark opposition. Both are real, and affect the world in very real ways. George and Balfour (his Healer guide) meet, and are married to four Cathartan women (2 apiece) which serve as bodyguards along the quest. These women were born into a society in which a plague ravishes the male population (definitely some evil magic going on here). Of course typical gender roles are non-existent in favor of a society where women occupy almost every role available. It’s a strange dynamic in that you have strong, ultra competent women who are still beholden to men because of their rarity. However, George arrives on the scene with the aid of technology on his side and seems reluctant to wed them or bed any of them. I sense social upheaval, the likes of which have only been propositioned in the most epic of fantasies (I’m thinking Wheel of Time here).
As far as the story elements are concerned, I feel that this piece was something of a foundational work. It set the stage for more writing to follow. The characters are interesting and have lots of room to develop. Also, it seems there are wuite a few characters to work with. Many heroes but also a great many villains. It will be interesting to see the way these threads are woven together and what the end result will be.
I’m gunning for more Unicorns! Bye all.