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The Changeling War
Peter Garrison
Ace Books, 340 pages


Keith Parkinson
The Changeling War
Peter Garrison
This is the first novel by Peter Garrison who is also known as Craig Shaw Gardner, author of the Dragon Circle trilogy (Dragon Sleeping, Dragon Waking and Dragon Burning).

ISFDB Bibliography
ISFDB Bibliography: Craig Shaw Gardner

Past Feature Reviews
A review by S. Kay Elmore

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There are countless old folk tales of Changelings; creatures left behind by fairies when the real human child has been stolen. In this world, there is an unseen world of magic and mystery, inhabited by creatures strange and fantastic. Peter Garrison draws from these age-old folk tales as inspiration for his new novel, The Changeling War. It's about two worlds, Earth as we know it, and a fantastic world called "The Castle."

Brian Clark is a changeling but he doesn't know it yet. Lonely and harangued by his obsessive mother, his only friend is Karen, a girl whose situation is just as desperate as his own. When Brian's father is gunned down on his front lawn, He and Karen are targeted by two Mafia hit men for unknown reasons. Aided by Karen's next door neighbor, the teens flee from the city into the surrounding country on a journey that gets decidedly weird. Pursued by minions of the pale, creepy Mr. Smith, they evade capture by using seat-of-their-pants resources neither teen knew they had.

Somewhere in The Castle, a young soldier flees a skirmish. His friends are dead and the enemy is coming for him. He's a soldier for the Greens, and fears the forces of the deadly Grays behind him. He's rescued by a menial -- a gnarlyman -- who whisks him away into an underground labyrinth and into the heart of enemy territory. Despite the little man's best efforts, a vicious High One who intends to use Aubric for her own political ends captures them, and he's plunged into the midst of an ancient struggle for power over The Castle.

The two worlds inhabited by Aubric and Brian are separate and operate under their own rules of physics or magic. Travel is possible between them, but like fairy mounds and barrows of folk legend; travel is difficult and not always certain. It's inevitable that the two worlds will become more open to each other, and the war on one world spill over to the other.

What is refreshing about The Changeling War is that Garrison doesn't rely at all on traditional folktale characters. He invents an amazing array of new races and beings to populate his world: the little gray gnarlymen, magical Judges, and the cruel, warlike High Ones. Even his Mafia men aren't stereotypical.

Though the premise for the story is borrowed from old, the plot itself is original. The alternate world of The Castle is amazing. Riddled with tunnels and magic spaces, it's a place where time and space are malleable. There are no happy elves in Garrison's world. Nothing is quite as good as it seems at first glance, and there is a little villain in everyone.

Copyright © 1999 S. Kay Elmore

S. Kay Elmore is a graphic artist, writer and corporate wage slave. She edits The Orphic Chronicle, an online magazine, and tries to make ends meet by writing and developing corporate newsletters and web sites.


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