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The Twisted Root of Jaarfindor    by Sean Wright order for
Twisted Root of Jaarfindor
by Sean Wright
Order:  USA  Can
Crowswing, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sean Wright has moved up in the age range to give us a compact dark fantasy (with a magnificent cover) that's as imaginative as his Jesse Jameson series, and reminiscent in style of a cross between something by Michael Moorcock and by Mervyn Peake. It's a bit dark for my taste, and I'm not keen on the coarse language (don't think it enhances either books or movies, though it does say something about the character who utters it) but, as usual, I'm impressed by the fast action, and wonder where the author gets his weird and wonderful ideas - could he be a root collector like his heroine?

In a parallel dimension far, far away, lives 18-year-old 'black as ebony' Princess Lia-Va of Wisblakria, 'Glathni warrior' trained and almost 7 feet tall. Though she killed her dad to ascend the throne, she disdains her kingdom. All she cares for is her deep addiction to 'roots' extracted from the newly dead, which give access to their memories. Lia-Va is driven by voices in her head to ruthless deeds (though the author hints at small remnants of goodness). She plays truant with her responsibilities and heads on quest, the 'Holy Pilgrimage of Brafindor'. After a survival-of-the-fittest hiring fair, mute Islan accompanies her as a 'back-eyes'. They board the disreputable 'Voyeur' sky-ship together.

Insectoid Captain Tullock-Cha enters into a rather revolting symbiosis with Lia-Va, that gives her root recall. We share with her memories of the final adventure and death of her loved second cousin, a 'pimple-faced braggart' named Frilek Van Diehoff, as well as the murder of his innocent page. There's violence on board the sky-ship and a bloodbath at their destination, in the catacombs of Brafindor. There, we learn of a vile plot to overturn the 'Tree of Life and Death'. Can Lia-va summon the strength of will to foil it?

If you really want to know, read The Twisted Root of Jaarfindor, a horror/fantasy tale that takes quite a few twists and turns on the way to its unusual ending. Sean Wright has not promised a sequel, but he certainly made room for one.

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