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Voidfarer: A Tale of the Moonworlds Saga    by Sean McMullen order for
by Sean McMullen
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I don't know how I missed the first two Moonworlds episodes (Voyage of the Shadowmoon and Glass Dragons), and plan to remedy that oversight. Voidfarer reads like a combination of one of Terry Pratchett's satirical Discworld adventures with The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.

Even without having read the previous episodes, I learned that eighteen-year-old Inspector Danolarian Scyverin of the Wayfarer Constables has been living under an assumed name for many years. He's actually an ex-prince, who's allergic to assuming any position of power because his father, an Emperor, devastated his world as thoroughly as our own Genghis Khan or Hitler. The father's sins resulted in the son reinventing himself. Danolarian loves the lovely, and fiercely intelligent, albino sorceress Lavenci, though they have more than their share of misunderstandings, as well as a magical glamour that keeps them apart for most of this episode.

As the story opens, Danolarian is accompanied by 87-pound, rabble-rousing, female Constable Riellen, alcoholic (by a sorceress scorned) Constable Roval, and ex-courtier Constable Waller, now a talking cat. They head to mountaintop Alpindrak (once a palace, now an observatory) in search of missing Empress Wensomer - though Danolarian finds her, this powerful sorceress has resigned the job, and flits off using magically generated etherwings. While there, Danolarian spots the beginnings of the invasion as 'a small flash on the dark side of Lupan.' He also plays the sun down with his bagpipes, a lifetime goal that wins him renown.

The actual invasion begins with shooting stars. They land as huge walking towers wielding invincible weapons, that begin burning down everything in sight. Danolarian recruits trolls and grass-gnomes, as well as a rogue Lupanian voidfarer for 'candlestine warfare', survives a murder attempt, and eventually wends his way to the capital city of Alberin. There, he and his cohorts are involved willy-nilly in a last ditch attempt to stop the invaders. Of course they succeed, but they also (serendipitously) start a revolution, and Danolarian meets himself engaging in a spot of time travel - which should lead nicely into his next adventure.

If you like your fantasy laced with plenty of humor and with a strong vein of societal satire, then Sean McMullen's Moonworlds Saga is a must read. I'm delighted to discover another unique perspective on the fantasy genre, and look forward to more from this Aussie author.

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