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Thursday 12 June 2003

§ Salon June 12, 2003
Andrew Leonard reviews Tad Williams's The War of the Flowers (DAW) as one of Salon's picks for June.

The world of Faerie turns out to have everything a fantasy fan could desire. But there's a delicious twist, one that elevates "The War of the Flowers" above the vast majority of sword-and-sorcery schlock swamping your local bookstore. For the world of Faerie is plagued by problems that, whoops, are plenty recognizable. Urban decay, power failures, class warfare, prejudice ... this land of make-believe is in big trouble, and there isn't going to be an easy talismanic cure. Heck, the fairy lords even have magic cellphones, which is a kind of evil I really wasn't expecting.

Leonard also notes--

In another subversive twist, "The War of the Flowers" turns out not to be the first volume in a multi-epic saga that may never end, or if it does, will require waiting until one's children have grown to the point where they are wondering why Dad reads so much fantasy. This is a stand-alone volume, with all loose ends wrapped up and no cliffhangers taunting the reader.

§ Washington Post Sunday, June 8, 2003
Tim Sullivan reviews books by Lucius Shepard, Michael Bishop, and Hayford Peirce, along with the anthology Album Zutique. Shepard's Louisiana Breakdown is

an engrossing, fast-moving novel, ripe with menacing atmosphere and infused with Shepard's trademark prose-poetry.

But Sullivan isn't in tune with Jeff VanderMeer's Album Zutique (Ministry of Whimsy).

An anthology of surrealistic fiction, this book on occasion comes dangerously close to self-parody. At other times, it reads like a glorified college literary magazine, as if the writers were stoned on Antonin Artaud plays or South American magical realism..

• Also this week, Michael Dirda reviews a book about the widow of George Orwell.

§ San Francisco Chronicle Sunday, June 1, 2003
Michael Berry reviews Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men:

"The Wee Free Men" is not the equal of "The Amazing Maurice . . .," one of last year's best fantasies for readers of any age. Its jokes are a little broader, the plot a little simpler, the pacing sometimes slightly off. But Pratchett is an old hand at this kind of humorous fantasy, and his latest novel provides the requisite amount of laughs, plot twists and hair-raising escapes.

Also, Diana Wynne Jones's The Merlin Conspiracy..

Even for adults, "The Merlin Conspiracy" isn't a particularly easy read. The plot twists, turns and swoops in unpredictable ways, the rules of the alternative worlds are revealed more by implication than by exposition, and the familial and marital relationships among the characters get a little confusing at times. Jones' latest, however, is well worth the effort, and the climactic showdown should satisfy any reader who has given "The Merlin Conspiracy" its full chance to work its considerable literary magic.

And a first novel by Jeanne DuPrau, The City of Ember (Random House)..

Although the central gimmick of "The City of Ember" may be familiar to those who have read widely in science fiction, DuPrau does a fine job of delineating the claustrophobia and paranoia that might arise in an isolated environment slowly losing its battle with entropy.

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