________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 15 . . . . March 20, 2009

cover Pretenders. (The Okal Rel Saga; Book 3).

Lynda Williams.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2006.
331 pp., pbk., $20.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-13-5.

Grades 8 and up /Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4


Ev'rel followed her to the end of the ivy-lined hall and through a set of double doors that the herald held open. Inside was Azure Lounge, the first room of the series called the Throat. She looked about frantically for Di Mon, but the room was empty.

"He's in Ameron's old room, in Family Hall," the errant told her coolly.

Ev'rel nodded. The fever made the gesture feel out of control and exaggerated. She pressed her palm to her face and felt sweat there before hurrying to catch up with the errant. Glimpses of earth artifacts, old pictures and historical memorabilia flashed by her, reminding her that the Monatese valued history over literature; philosophy over hope; and diplomacy over war all things she had learned from her Montanese mentor.

He is a fair man, she told herself, for courage. He won't hold past mockery and high spirits against me. He knows I'd never harm my own baby! The very thought of the lost infant heaved a raw sob into her throat.

"Immortality?" The errant stopped to see what was the matter with her.

Set a thousand years in the future, this complicated third tale in the series is a blend of science fiction and fantasy. While it is not necessary to have read the previous books, it would help as, without that knowledge, readers will find themselves struggling to follow the threads of the early going. The book opens without providing any background details and plunges right into a complex plot in a future, almost feudal galaxy.

     Ev'rel returns from exile to claim the throne in a court full of as many twists and treacheries as medieval Italy. Unknown to her, Amel, her lost son, has been raised a courtesan and soon will return as a contender supported by a rival faction. Ritualized swordplay is a method of settling differences in this universe. Travelling to court with young Amel is the beautiful lady Ayrium, a tomboy and a quick hand with a sword. Ev'rel plans to marry both Amel and Ayrium off to cement advantages to her regal plans. Both reject the idea. Ayrium meets a mysterious gentleman, Amra, who seems to have a connection to a long-dead hero.

     Passions have a strong place in this story as it follows the lives of several main characters. Ev'rel is not certain about her feelings for her old mentor and advisor, Di Mon. Unknown to her, Di Mon has his own problems, a forbidden love with a member of a different race, Ranar of the Reetions. Ev'rel has many secrets and difficulty in controlling her desires. Amel, the ex-courtesan, finds himself conflicted. Aryium is attracted to the scholarly Amra. While all this is going on behind the scenes, there is a struggle for the control of empires.

     A long involved tale at 331 pages and eighteen chapters, this is not the end of the series. There is at least one more novel to come. This particular part of the story involves strong issues of sexuality, which, while not overt, touch on such issues as homosexuality, incest and rape. In this well-written and detailed story, the author uses many original words and phrases to make the tale come alive. If readers enjoys fast-moving complicated plots, swordplay, relationships, and a setting involving different worlds and space opera, they should be well satisfied.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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