Saturday, November 9, 2019

Chorus Skating

Alan Dean Foster’s final Spellsinger story opens with Flagyr the badger and his friend Invez the serval hearing a musical phenomenon, which is visible. Meanwhile, human spellsinger Jon-Tom and his otter friend Mudge are fishing while their wives are away, with their efforts at housekeeping largely being a mess. One of the cleaning sprites, Fugwheez, stands out, with Jon-Tom, desperate for a new adventure, visiting the turtle wizard Clothahump, who tells them of the wizard holiday Crixxas and the mentioned visible music, to which the spellsinger and his lutrine companion give chase.

The two encounter things such as intelligent paperwork and toll-takers Phembloch the ratal and Tack the shrew, who receive a more fanciful gate to defend through spellsong. Jon-Tom and Mudge soon meet the mongoose Lieutenant Naike, who seeks his country’s missing princess, the travelers agreeing to help. The grizzly bear Manzai holds several princesses hostage, with the company rescuing them and continuing on their way in chase of the fleeing music. The company eventually find a swamp buggy from Earth that conveys them across Karrakas. At the fishing village of Mashupro, they hear of a plague killing music, and incidents cause them to flee.

Afterward, the wayfarers endure a storm on the new craft for which they trade, although almost immediately after they escape it, they encounter an intelligent whirlpool that takes kindly to jokes. On one of the many islands they visit, they find a band from Earth that briefly tags along, after which they meet the main villain, Hieronymus Hinckel, a battle with him concluding the novel. Overall, this is an enjoyable conclusion to the Spellsinger saga, although many readers won’t get the musical references, and as with its predecessors the eighth entry references technology that didn’t exist when Jon-Tom first entered the novels’ world.

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