Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Bookshelves: sci-fi, fantasy
Golden Witchbreed is the first not-Ash book by Mary Gentle I’ve read. I adore the Ash chronicles, so much so that for years I feared they would be ruined for me if Gentle’s other books didn’t enrapture me as much.
These books do not, in fact, meet the Ash standard, but that’s okay. I enjoyed them. Gentle’s created world is very real, the characters varied and well-developed, the culture and natural environment richly imagined. Golden Witchbreed is the story of human Lynne Christie, envoy from Earth to the post-holocaust, post-tech planet Orthe, where advanced technology is considered suspicious because of the super-tech once wielded by the now-extinct (or are they…?) and evil Golden Witchbreed. As Christie shares the skin tone of the ‘Breed and has advanced tech in her possession, her first-contact job is exponentially more difficult, and she quickly finds herself ensnared in political intrigue, fighting for her life.
The only issue I had was with the rather elaborate character names (examples are Sulis n’ri n’suth SuBannasen and Gur’an Alahamu-to O’he-Oramu-te; those are only two people) used interchangeably with the characters’ titles, so that combined with the sheer volume of them made it difficult to remember who was who. There’s a Cast of Characters in the front of the book, but I got tired of flipping back and forth. I’m lazy that way.
I liked the first book well enough that I bought the sequel, Ancient Light. My biggest gripe with that one was toward the end, it was draaaaaaging out soooooooo baaaaaad. I considered not finishing it several times – we’ll have a meeting here, now I’ll take a shuttle over here and have a meeting, while you take another shuttle over there and have a meeting, and Whosis can take a third shuttle for a meeting in that other place – on and on and on and on. But I’d invested almost a month reading these two books, and I had to find out what I happened, and I stuck with it. A great many other reviewers were angered by the ending, but it made sense to me. I mean, this is colonialism.
Neither book has a lot of action and both are heavy on descriptive passages, but the world-building is phenomenal and they’re worth reading just for that.
So while I liked these well enough, I’m not so much a Mary Gentle fan as I am a Super Huge Fan of the Ash books that happen to be written by Mary Gentle.