My previous review, of Ms. Brennan's excellent novel, "Doppelganger,"
was actually motivated largely by a desire to read "Warrior and
Witch." Again, there is the terrible cover and a back blurb that is
not much better, but a few pages of reading convinced me that I wanted
to read it. As "Warrior and Witch" is the sequel to "Doppelganger," I
clearly needed to read that one first, and as may be seen by my review
of it, it did not disappoint.
This book picks up much where the previous book left off, albeit with
a somewhat different main character. Those who have read either
"Doppelganger" or the terrible spoiler blurb on "Warrior and Witch"
will know what I mean. To my surprise and delight, it immediately
took a very different turn that the previous book, while still
retaining the fresh tone and well thought out development.
You see, "Doppelganger" was basically a combination of detective story
and quest story, and resolved with some legitimate deus ex machina
that goes and shakes up a major institution of Ms. Brennan's invented
world. In "Warrior and Witch," we have front-row seats for the
backlash. Suddenly everything taken for granted in the previous book
is coming apart at the seams, all of the solid foundations are
crumbling away, and why? Because in the first book, the good guys
Her handling of this difficult story has greatly increased my respect
for Ms. Brennan as a writer. The backlash she writes about is not
some ham-handed universal thumb on the scales like Modesitt applies in
his Sisyphean hamster-wheel of order and chaos, but rather the birth
pangs of legitimate cultural change. What's more, the opposition are
not even clearly evil or in the wrong. Their tactics may quickly sap
the reader's sympathy, but their point of view is coherent and the
side we're rooting for does not end up with clean hands either.
My one complaint was that she had to go and end with a deus ex machina
again. The first book demanded it, but this one did not. I could
think of several ways that she could have reached the same resolution
without it, and it left a sour taste in my mouth, but for all that
it's only a small thing and can be easily forgiven. I thus recommend
this book to anyone who has a taste for fantasy and is tired of
unsophisticated treatments of characters and the world they live in.