Thursday, July 2, 2009

Glenraven by Marion Zimmer Bradley: Don't judge this book by it's cover

Posted by Simcha 3:05 PM, under | No comments

While sitting down to breakfast I was looking around for something to read (I take whatever opportunities are available to me) and I decided to give Glenraven a try since it was sitting on a shelf nearby. This book has actually been sitting on the shelf unread for a while because the garish cover just put me off (yes, I admit to judging books by their covers. But really, who doesn't?) The cover is a shiny red with a picture in the middle of a gray faced, fanged, vampire -looking creature (whom the book assures us is really good looking) gazing into the distance dramatically, while clutching an unconscious woman. I wasn't expecting too much from the book, other then a little something to entertain me while I enjoyed my morning eggs. But it turned out, that despite the cover, I actually liked the book.

Glenraven is a magical land that is in dire need of salvation from the evil sorceress who has taken over the land and steals the magic from the land and it's citizens, for her own use. She also strengthens her power by eating small children (a most vile villainous).

In an attempt to find someone so save them from the sorceress, a member of a revolutionary group in Glenraven crafted a magical device which was to be sent into the outside world in order to identify the hero who could save Glenraven and its citizens. This device takes the form of a Fodor's Guide book and ends up in a bookstore in North Carolina.

JayJay has been through two disastrous marriages and has just made an unpleasant discovery about her third husband. Sophie has never recovered from the death of her daughter, three years ago, and feels that she has nothing left to live for. JayJay's discovery, in the local bookstore, of the Fodor's Guide to Glenhaven seems like the perfect solution, giving her a place to escape to. Unintentionally, Sophie volunteer to come as well, despite the fact that she knows that no such country exists. But both Sophie and JayJay want to get away from their troubled lives and for some reason, Glenhaven calls to them.

Sophie and JayJay's journey to Glenhaven is not what they expected, particularly the strange, supposedly certified, guide who seems to have no interest in guiding them. And when their Fodor's Guide to Glenhaven begins exhibiting strange behaviors for a book, the women are forced to admit that they have gotten more then they bargained for.

While Glenhaven can't compare to Bradley's other epic works, such as the Avalon series of books, it was an easy and enjoyable read. I really liked JayJay and Sophie and found them to be sympathetic characters with a humorous wit reflected in their good-natured bantering, throughout the book. The other characters were not as well developed, but I didn't mind too much. The only thing that bothered me was the sinister behavior of the man who had contrived to bring the heroes to Glenhaven. There did not seem to be any reason why he behaved in such a strange way when he approached JayJay and Sophie, in Glenhaven, and why he went looking for them at night with an army of men. It was obvious that Bradley's purpose for doing this was to force the two women to flee, but it just didn't make sense in the context of the story.

But after the last book I read was such a disappointment, I was happy to read a book that I was really able to get into.

I think the next book that I'll try is Acacia, by David Anthony Durham. I've read good things about it and I've been meaning to read it for a while.


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