Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hammerfall by C. J. Cherryh -- Tools of the Trade

This is part 1 of what will be a three part posting, since Cherryh does so many things right with this book, and illustrates very well some of the points I have been discussing in the last few weeks.

To start, we have our book rave. During my lovely router troubles, I had more time on my hands than I expected. I worked on my WIPs of course, and did some research, but I had a little bit more spare moments to do my casual reading--for fun and not to learn something or discover something or etc.

This book was an impulse buy at a local library sale. $1 for the hardback. I had never heard of this author before, but the back cover sounded intriguing, the first page didn't start with a load of descriptive crap on the purple sky or something,  (a common enough occurrence in my preferred genre to make me gag) and it mentioned that she had won a Hugo award. Not that those always mean anything--since I've bought several "Hugo Award" collections and been severely disappointed.  But hey-- a buck. Why not?

I was pleasantly surprised. The book Hammerfall by C. J. Cherryh delivers as only a good "crossover" can. [Crossover, for me at least, is something that combines elements of science fiction and fantasy. Children of the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl, and the accompanying series Enchantress from the Stars, are good examples]

We start out in a desert world--which is intriguing because of the wild ecology that can develop-- and with a main character, Marak Trin Tain...who insane. Not something you see every day.

That is, he hears voices, sees visions, and feels drawn toward the east. From there, we meet Ila--an immortal "god" who wants to know what the mad are seeing, and sends Marak eastward with the rest of the madmen she's collected.

And from there, the plot grows more convoluted and interesting. Especially when one character mentions "nanoceles". Hmm....

As a whole, I enjoyed this greatly. I was kept continually guessing as to what exactly the Ila wanted, and what Luz (another immortal) truly wanted. Which was good. Which was bad. I love when I can't figure out who is the "villain" in a storyline. The world was enjoyable as well. Good, solid ecology and ideas and descriptions that pleased my muse greatly.

She also illustrated the art of pacing--using her sentences, her style, and many other things to either speed up time, or slow it down. To give a sense of time's passing without stating "three hours later".  She also showed skill in delivering information. Never once did I feel like an author's intrusion, or that the author was info-dumping all about this world, or the language, or the "secret" of the sci-fi elements to come.

Those two things will be the topics of future posts throughout this week. I gave this one a 4.5 star rating, because at the very end, there were a few loose ends--for me at least--I wanted tied off. Not a big deal, but I had a few questions about things at the very end. Beyond that, this is an excellent book.

Here is the link to the author's blog, in case you want to peruse. C. J. Cherryh


  1. Sounds cool. I will take note.

  2. Ok, I'll have to add that to my growing list of books I have to try. I have read one of her other books (I forget the title), but I found it dull. This sounds moderately interesting.