Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Paths of the Perambulator


The fifth installment of Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series, which he dedicates to printers Alex Berman and Sid, opens with spellsinging protagonist Jon-Tom sensing something amiss, specifically that he has transformed into a giant blue crab. The reason is the eponymous perambulator, a part-organic, part-inorganic, part-orgasmic creature neither here nor there, only it’s both here and there. Clothahump the turtle wizard is just as scared as Jon-Tom, with he and his owl apprentice Sorbl encountering their own transformations as well. Thus, they begin the search for the perambulator, beginning with the cellar of Clothahump’s home.

For means of faster conveyance across the land, Jon-Tom summons a jeep and gasoline through spellsong, after which they reach the formerly-beautiful, now-downtrodden community of Ospenspri, where, unsurprisingly, the otter Mudge is drinking his worries away. Alcoholic precipitation is summoned to rectify the town’s problems, with Dormas the hinny joining the party. They soon rescue the rune-casting koala Colin from primitive cannibals, with occasional perambulations affecting the party, in one instance turning the animal characters briefly human. Eventually, they come to the fortress where their adversary is, with clones of Jon-Tom’s love Talea attacking.

A confrontation with the wolverine wizard Braglob ends the fifth novel, which is pretty much on par with its predecessors, by no means a bad thing, and, given its comical situations, is a good spiritual successor to classic works such as Lewis Carroll’s stories about Alice. Older audiences, moreover, will definitely appreciate the mature themes and occasional references to musicians, although these might fly over the heads of younger readers. Given my involvement in the furry fandom, moreover, I definitely have a place in my heart for this franchise, and would easily recommend it to those of equal persuasion.

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