Saturday, August 31, 2019



The first entry of author Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series opens with an enemy wizard, on the fourth day of Eluria, following the Feast of Consanguinity, vowing to take over the Warmlands. Following this, human protagonist Jonathon Thomas Meriweather encounters the otter Mudge, scarcely a foot shorter than he is. The lutrine takes Jon-Tom to the abode of the turtle wizard Clothahump, who informs the human that he deliberately summoned him to his world, given the looming threat of the insectoid Plated Folk. In this otherworld, all warmbloods except four-legged herbivores such as horses and bovines are intelligent beings.

Clothahump appoints Mudge to be Jon-Tom’s guide in the nearby Lynchbany Towne, which has a disposition similar to the feudal era of Earth’s Europe, where the prelaw college student acquires new clothes to blend in, and where the two dine at the Pearl Possum. However, a brawl breaks out there, with the human woman Talea rescuing them and leading them to the Thieves’ Hall outside town. Jon-Tom, Mudge, and Talea agree to stay clear of Lynchbany for a while, and ultimately come across abandoned items, among them being a string instrument known as a duar, with which the prelaw college student demonstrates talent as an eponymous spellsinger.

After an encounter with miniature beings known as gneechees, the group returns to Clothahump’s home, with the turtle wizard noting Jon-Tom’s talent with the duar. During an attempt to return the student to his world, the human woman Flores Quintera materializes in the otherworld, with a discussion following on the danger that the Plated Folk pose. Their Empress, Skrritch the Eighteenth, is amassing forces in the Greendowns, with Clothahump making it a goal to follow the River Tailaroam upstream. In the glade of Triane, the turtle and his servant, the bat Pog, summon the equine spirit M’nemaxa, who doesn’t seem to have much bearing on the story.

A ship of unsavory passengers adds the aristocratic rabbit Caz to the party, and whilst Jon-Tom attempts to summon river salamanders as transportation up the river, he inadvertently summons the dragon Falameezar-aziz-Sulmonmee, who has socialist leanings. The first entry concludes in the city of Polastrindu, where Jon-Tom briefly finds himself captive of insurgent humans that wish to start a race war, and Falmeezar considers incinerating the city after an argument with capitalists. Overall, this is a good introduction to the Spellsinger series, given its intelligent animal characters and predating Redwall by a few years, with only minor narrative issues such as an anachronistic reference to Armageddon.

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