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The Book of Night with Moon
Diane Duane
Warner Aspect Books, 390 pages

The Book of Night with Moon
Diane Duane
Diane Duane has published twenty-seven novels, numerous short stories, and various comics and computer games. Her husband, UK fantasy writer Peter Morwood, is a frequent collaborator: so far they share credits for five novels and are working on a sixth. Duane's freelance screenwriting work has included the widely acclaimed episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, "Where No One Has Gone Before." Her most recently aired screen work has included episodes of the animated BATMAN series and of GARGOYLES.

Diane Duane Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

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In The Book of Night with Moon, Diane Duane returns to the world she first described in her young adult Wizardry series, a world much like our own, but where certain individuals can become wizards through the help of a special self-updating book, "The Book of Night with Moon." The feline equivalent to that book, "The Gaze of Rhoua's Eye," is conveyed by the Whisperer, in an oral version rather than a written one. In this novel, Duane details the adventures of four feline wizards, rather than human wizards.

Feline wizards have a special gift for dealing with the cosmic gates which connect different realities and allow wizards to travel quickly from place to place. These gates are composed of a series of energy threads which must be woven correctly for the gates to function normally. According to Duane, the game "cat's cradle" evolved from a human catching a glimpse of some feline wizards at work on a gate. Duane has obviously spent a great deal of time watching cats at play, and after reading this book you'll never look at your own cats in the same way again.

In The Book of Night with Moon, three feline wizards and a young cat on his Ordeal set out to repair a malfunctioning transit gate. They soon discover, however, that there are even larger problems to deal with. They must journey to the Downside, an alternate world inhabited by intelligent dinosaurs, the Children of the Serpent. There they discover that the cause of their gate problems is an evil dinosaur wizard, backed by the evil Lone Power. They must defeat the wizard to prevent the invasion of their own reality by his minions and restore the gates to normal.

For fans of Diane Duane's Wizardry series, this book adds a great deal of background regarding wizards who are not human, and the workings of the transit gates. In addition, we are finally given the details surrounding the Lone Power. Duane's creation story parallels many other mythical creation stories: the Powers That Be made the world under the instructions of the One. Each Power then went its own way and one of them invented entropy -- it created death. War ensued and the Power that created death was cast out into darkness. This Lone Power was furious at the others for their rejection of its gift to creation and so, as each intelligent species arose, it offered them a Choice: "Take the path that the Powers seemed to have put before it -- or turn aside into a path destined to make the species that tread it, more powerful and blessed... more like gods." Species that were offered the Choice and chose badly, condemned themselves to entropy and death forever after. Like all other species, felines were given the Choice. While most accepted the gift, a few recognized the potential danger of the Choice offered by the Lone Power and attacked it and died. They are reborn, again and again, as wizards.

I would recommend this book if only for this kind of background information. These are the kinds of details that I enjoy and search for in stories -- evidence that the author has given a great deal of thought to how magic works in their world. I must admit, though, that I found other parts of the book less enjoyable. Duane has given her felines a language of their own and sprinkles the text with their words. Though she provides a glossary, I find it tedious to continually look up what each of the words mean as I run across them. An appendix explaining each of the powers in the feline pantheon and how they relate to one another would have been appreciated as well. That said, the book is a real treat for cat-lovers, giving new meaning to the inexplicable behavior of cats. In fact, there's an interesting afterword describing Hauissh, an elaborate game of positioning and dominance played by cats. It's cute but best appreciated by ailurophiles. [That means "cat-lovers" for anyone who may not be up on their Greek -- SF Site Ed.]

In summary, The Book of Night with Moon is an excellent addition to Duane's Wizardry series. The detailed descriptions of her creation mythology and some of the magical underpinnings of her books will delight some readers but may bore others. If you dislike too much detail like this and/or don't care for cats, you may want to give this book a pass. But if you have cats, you should enjoy Duane's unique vision of what those cats may be doing when you're not looking.

Copyright © 1998 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.


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