DREAM OF POWER, DREAM OF
Dimensions, June 2004
Reviewed by Joy
The kingdom of Byzer is complacently peaceful after defeating the Greman tribes a hundred years ago. But even if the border fortress of Earth Rock had been vigilant, there would be no saving it from the monster which suddenly appears, tearing it stone from stone and then pounding off unopposed in the direction of the Byzer capital.
The ancient, beautiful Cassandra, Mistress of Lights, can see in her lanterns that a great evil is reviving. A hotheaded faction of the Gremans, led by the blond, giant councilman Baser, has made an alliance with the wizards of Symatur against their old enemy Byzer. Cassandraís chosen champion is Eric, a chess-playing son of a peasant, who knows he could never leave his parents to farm alone. Cassandra has to show him images of murder and mayhem approaching Byzer to change his mind and get him to follow her, and even then, Eric isnít sure what he can do to help.
King Charles of Byzer calls his council together when refugees begin streaming in from the Greman border with reports that the Greman hordes are using some kind of magic in addition to pillage and murder. Charles has plans, but they arenít equal to defeating magic, and he has never even heard of the wizards of Symatur. Here is where Cassandra comes in. While Charles and the Byzers hold off the Gremans, Cassandra and Eric must defeat the allies who support them Ė the wizards and the evil force they serve.
It is in the nature of quest fantasies that we already know the end of the story. Their appeal depends on how well we can relate to the characters, their environment and dilemmas. Author Terry Weide gives us strong initial portraits of the three main men on whom the action will depend: Eric with his solo chess game, showing an engaging intelligence and initiative; Baser the Greman leader, simmering even more than most under the memory of Byzerís dominance of his people; Charles, king of the contented Byzers, crackling with effective decisiveness when the emergency arises. After such a promising start, it is disappointing that Weideís focus soon neglects these charismatic personalities to zero in on the action. His heroes play their roles, but do not carry the strong auras they began with. The two characters who do fulfill their promise are Furnas, the grumpy, humorous dragon with sensitive ears, and Commander Tallin, military man relegated to paper-pushing, who gets his chance and maneuvers his life into exactly what he wants it to be.
Author Terry Weide has the look of a poet turning to fiction, and indeed, he has a chapbook of poetry on his resumť. As always when poetry is a strong influence in a writerís life, there is a special challenge to be met in prose writing. Is the author able to adapt his style to his medium, or does the story drown in words? In DREAM OF POWER, DREAM OF GLORY, I would have to say the answer is half and half. Yes, there is a story, a clear one with a strong plot line. Do the words get in the way? Yes, they do (item: the title). Where Weide could be creating the characters in flesh and bone, placing us in their minds to share their experiences, he is instead enjoying his ability to paint pictures in words. There is a scene in which two people are tricking their way into the palace. It is vitally important that their false credentials not be uncovered, so they can talk to the king. At such a time one would not be noticing the lush gardens, much less forming artistic paragraphs about them in the mind. It is just plain out of character. In the same incident, the author makes his point about the garden but then continues adding words, as if what he has said is not yet ornate enough to satisfy him. My final comment, again from the same section, is that like poetry, good prose writing requires a rhythm. The better it sounds in the mouth, the better it will sound in the readerís brain; the more it stumbles in the mouth, or hitches the breathing, the harder it is to read.
Perhaps the section of the book which lives most naturally in DREAM OF POWER, DREAM OF GLORY is the seagoing sequence. This is not just because the author appears familiar with seamanship. There is little scenery to describe at sea, so the author concentrates on Ericís inner experience, increasing Ericís ability to touch us. Weide also has some strong dramatic sections, the strongest being the ones in which words are used most briefly. This bodes well for the future, assuming he is still in learning mode. I wouldnít comment on all these things, except that I think from what I have read in DREAM OF POWER, DREAM OF GLORY, Terry Weide has the talent to put these suggestions to use and build on them. In addition to his book of poetry, he has previously published short stories and nonfiction, and this is his debut novel.
Nov 2004 Review
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