Next up: “Colors in the Dreamweaver’s Loom” and “The Feast of the Trickster” by Beth Hilgartner
A pair of extremely 80’s fantasy for young adults. They might be out of print, but an online search for used book sellers finds a lot of copies for sale for pretty cheap. Libraries with older collections might have them, too. I first read it ’em in the 90’s at my hometown library.
The first book introduces us to Alexandria Scarsdale, whose father has just died. Their relationship had been strained, and now with him dead, she is grieving the loss of the chance to make amends. Unhappy, dealing with the loss and her conflicted emotions in regards to it, she takes a walk in the Vermont forest and becomes lost. When night falls, she curls up under a tree to sleep… and wakes in a different world.
Alexandria, nicknamed Zan, finds herself taken in by the forest-dwelling nature-loving society the Orathi. After living with the Orathi for some time, Zan is introduced to conflict in this world in the form of a “diplomatic” party from the City, who wish to take over the Orathi’s lands. Zan and her friends from the Orathi decide to fight this decision, first by going to the City, and then going to the Windsmeet to beg intercession from the world’s gods. Unfortunately, one of the pantheon is the Trickster God, and her interest in Zan and her friends leads to obstacles and conflicts in their world, and, in the second book, ours.
I enjoyed the first book, however dated it is. I was pretty young when I read it, and very amused by ‘young person from our world falls into a different one’ type of stories. This duology isn’t the best example of that trope, but it was entertaining enough. I do have a couple criticisms, the first being that I didn’t like the character of Zan. I just didn’t jive with her tone (which was kind of whiny) or a number of her actions (which elicited some ‘what were you thinking?!’s). The worldbuilding is pretty simplistic, too. You’ve got your City people, who are oppressive and aggressive, and your forest people, who are gentle tree-huggers. And your warrior society desert people. It’s pretty formulaic, though the main characters do break from their peoples’ traditions (I liked Remarr).
The first book leaves on a sizable cliff-hanger. I was excited to read the second one to see what happened… but I was rather quickly disappointed. The second book takes a HUGE left-turn from the first. I’m not someone who requires books to coddle characters, but when all you do is torture them and provide little to no positivity I tend to lose interest really fast. Who wants to slog through a couple hundred pages of downers? And Zan is incredibly different from the first book, a change that came apparently out of the blue (not to mention the supremely unethical love-story she has going with her psychiatrist). I can see what Hilgartner was trying to do, and it could have been cool, but you have to set those things up earlier, let them develop more. Don’t just do some vague handwaving. The whole plot of the second book is poorly executed.
I did like the concept of the gods of the other world– titles like the Trickster, or the Weaver, or Namegiver. And the idea of weavers, who were sort of like seers, because they could see a little what was going on in the fabric of Fate. And people visiting other worlds is a really fun trope. But there isn’t a whole lot that’s special or unique in this duology.
Violence, and kind of abuse.