bobquasit: (The Question)
[personal profile] bobquasit
The Sword and the EyeThe Sword and the Eye by Justin Leiber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wavered between giving this three and four stars. Once again, GoodReads' five-star system proves much too limiting. In a fractional scale, this would be a 3.5 at least.

It's really quite a likable book, in no small part because it takes some of the standard tropes of fantasy and fiction in general - going all the way back to The Count of Monte Cristo and, of course, Shakespeare - yet managed to surprise and move me at some points. I value that; when you've read as many books as I have, genuine surprises are rare, and to be cherished.

The language is a bit archaic and Vancian (i.e. reminiscent of Jack Vance, which is to say rather formal and old-fashioned). There are moments when the humor reminds me of Vance too - but nowhere near as chaotic and confusing as Vance can sometimes be.

It's an old story; the hero, cast down from his noble station, finds himself fated to set things right. The characters are the usual fantasy types, albeit with more depth than is usual. In fact, that's where Leiber surprised me; I was more than half-expecting the usual "this ends here" final encounter between the hero and villain, and instead was surprised by...well, I won't spoil it for you.

I'll note that Justin Leiber is the son of the famous Golden Age science fiction writer Fritz Leiber. He's a rare example of literary talent running true in a family (unlike the supremely untalented Brian Herbert, who, I must note, should have had his hands chopped off before he was ever allowed near a keyboard). Leiber (fils has also demonstrated an impressive range of ability, having also written some very good science fiction in a very different "voice". The Sword and the Eye is the next-to-last fiction book he published (so far); there's apparently a sequel (the cover calls it "Book One of the Saga of Eigin"), but that sequel was published in 1986, and there's been nothing more from Leiber since. That's a pity, because writers of his caliber are far too rare in the science fiction and fantasy genres these days!


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