Book Shilling 7/2/2004

Looking for a new fantasy book to read over the 4th of July weekend? Sure you are. Allow me to suggest Freedom’s Gate by my pal Naomi Kritzer, which came out just this last Tuesday, and which should be available in your local bookstore if they have a SF/F rack section that has more than Tolkien and Star Wars books, and is available through Amazon if they don’t.

Naomi was kind enough to have an advance copy sent to me, so I can say that it’s pretty good: It’s first book of a planned trilogy which posits a fantasy past in which Alexander lived past the age of 32, the Greeks maintained the empire he created and (of course) magic exists and is used for all sort of purposes. The primary character is a young woman, working as a trusted servant of a Greek commander, who is instructed to infiltrate an enemy group. Along the way, her loyalties are of course challenged and the scene is set, it appears, for even greater conflicts in upcoming books.

Naomi has a real knack for getting fantasy out of its usual Tolkien-Celtic-Whatever surroundings; her last series took place in a somewhat Italianate culture, and this one posits an alternate culture more or less where Kazakhstan sits today. So anyone who’s bored with fantasy that takes place in the “same old, same old” hackneyed settings will appreciate the change of scenery here. And as with her former series, Naomi keeps the language direct and readable and doesn’t overdo it trying to make her characters or narrators sound archaic. I applaud this mostly because faux-archaic language nearly always makes me want to roll my eyes. It’s not contemporary fantasy (remember, it takes place in an alternate timeline a couple thousand years back), but it’s fantasy that contemporary readers will enjoy. I did, in any event.

So if you’re planning a bookstore excursion, put it on the list. If you’re not planning a bookstore excursion, what’s wrong with you? Got something against bookstores?

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