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auspex

Novel Tease

Random meanderings about the books I love—or don't. 

Interspersed with observations about my hobbies: Beer & Wine, Bridge, Bikes and Bow-wows.

Currently reading

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak
Pontypool Changes Everything
Tony Burgess

On Wings of Magic (Witch World: The Turning #3)

On Wings of Magic  - Andre Norton, Patricia Townley Mathews, Sasha Miller
The first novella, We, the Women, is just incredibly, incredibly, bad. I know Norton wasn't really involved in the Witch World, The Turning series, but I cannot imagine how she could permit her name to be attached to this.

We have a village of Falconer women, at the time of the Turning, caring for a group of exiles (presumably from Karsten, except that that appears to be geographically impossible) and finding themselves completely incapable of understanding the gender dynamics of a patriarchal society. Nevermind that the women of the Falconer race live apart from the men, filling all the roles — except as warriors — that men in the surrounding societies would take: Falconer women must, of necessity, understand that men are not just "he-women" because they know (if only from their worst excesses) Falconer men. It's simply not at all believable.

As well, apparently the Falconer women have had secret villages as long as the Falconers have lived on the Estcarp border, so that the Falconer men only ever see the women in Potemkin villages. Does a herder not know when 90% of his herd is missing? Everything we've been told of Falconers, in previous Witch World stories, suggests that however despicable some (possibly even most) Falconers may be, they're not stupid — they treat their women as chattel, even routinely referring to them as "mares", and it is inconceivable that they're only seeing a small number of the women.

Then a group of Estcarp Borderers finds the Potemkin village after the Turning, offering to help rebuild it. One of the Borderer troop wonders what has happened to destroy the village so thoroughly, and only belatedly realizes "Oh. The Turning." Duh? [He was, in fact, wrong, but in a cataclysm that could raise new mountain ranges, how did he expect buildings to survive?]

The one glimmer of light in the story is the clear depiction of the Goddess Jonkara as the protector of women — where the Falconer men believe she was the Dark One who almost destroyed their race. Unfortunately, at no time is this resolved. Even in the Afterword (which I think was written by Norton), we're given just one more tiny clue, and left hanging.

Awful, awful, offal!

The second story, Falcon Magic, is much better, but still suffers from a great many errors of continuity and lack of attention (e.g., at one point somebody escaping back to Alizon, when they're actually escaping from Alizon, trying to reach Estcarp; in another case a child is riding in front of one adult - and a paragraph later in front of another, without any suggestion that they'd stopped and exchanged; in both stories, the author's would seem to have benefited from ready access to maps of Estcarp and/or Alizon).

Two stars for Falcon Magic for at least being readable, <1 star for We, The Women.