Bewildering Stories

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Anselm Audley's Heresy

Author: Anselm Audley
Pocket Books
399 pages
ISBN: 0743427394
Price: $7.99

I wanted to bash my head against a wall after reading Heresy. Not because it's a bad book, because it isn't. It's a decent well-written science fantasy. But... The author, Anselm Audley, was 19 when this book was written. Arrrgh. I understand that the sequel, Inquistion is even better written than this first book. .

I was put off by this book originally because it looked like another run-of-the-mill medievaloid fantasy, taking place on an inverse "Dune", a water planet named--now wait for this--Aquasilva... C'mon, now... And to make things worse, the book cover read "Book One of the Aquasilva Trilogy". Almost the kiss of death there.

I'm glad I dipped my toe in the waters of Aquasilva, though, because it is quite different. Yeah, the hero is a teenager who is "coming-of-age", and those can sometimes be enjoyable, but often not. He is the child of privilege; his daddy is the Count of a small island nation. And there are rumblings that "things are not as they seem". Ooooooo.

But there are strange dislocations. There is the anachronistic communications gear, and the mantas; undersea ships of varying sizes, quite at odds with the medievaloid technology. These things as well as the quickly improving writing drew me into the story.

Aquasilva is a planet with five gods. However, the premier social and economic power is also the realm of "The Domain", a religious hierarchy devoted to the god of fire, and anyone worshiping, or even trying to study the other gods are accused of heresy. On a planet of immense storms, where it might be worthwhile to be familiar with the powers of wind and water, these prohibitions seem damaging.

The story of Cathan, the friends he makes, his discovery about his past and his powers within, and his journey into heresy, set against the ever-growing dominance of The Domain, make for a powerful well-written story. Unlike many "trilogies", this book comes to a proper end, but with plenty of room for more intrigue and adventure.

I'm now looking for the next book. Recommended.

Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Wright