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The Rover    by Mel Odom order for
by Mel Odom
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Third Level Librarian Wick is a Dweller, a halfer whose promotion has been held back by his reading binges amongst the frivolous (in the grandmagister's opinion) volumes of Hralbomm's Wing. After all, the Vault of All Known Knowledge was built after the cataclysm to be ' the last bastion of hope, the final torch that will hold back that dreadful beast, Ignorance, father of the corrupting twins, Superstition and Irrationality.'

Soon Wick is living an adventure straight from the pages of his favorite tomes, and finding it frightening and painful - more than once he muses that 'Dwellers are not meant for such things as this!' The grandmagister's mysterious errand, combined with a curiosity that often gets his people into trouble, leads to Wick's helping a warder against mythical Boneblights. Wick rises to that occasion, only to be shanghaied by dwarven pirates, sold into goblin slavery, and rescued by a roving band of thieves.

Time and time again, Wick scrapes through extreme peril (aiding his companions in the process) by means of ideas gleaned from his favorite books. Of course, he disagrees when a fellow-slave warns him 'Ideas are the worst of all', considering Wick and his contagious ideas a danger to the community. When Wick applies his skills to solving an ancient skull puzzle, the thieves discover a secret chamber (with books that Wick is unable to read) and end up trailed by the powerful Purple Cloaks. Further adventures involve an elven lady, a dragon and a volcano.

Though this book has been compared to Tolkien's works, it is very unlike them in style, much more like some of Dave Duncan's exciting fantasy adventures. On the other hand, halfers do resemble hobbits and Wick is not unlike Bilbo in his endearing humility and courage under fire. Though The Rover is not high fantasy, it's great fun and I look forward to spending more time with Wick the halfer librarian.

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