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Nightseer
Laurell K. Hamilton
Roc Books, 302 pages

Nightseer
Laurell K. Hamilton
Laurell K. Hamilton has never wanted to do anything but write, so she earned an English degree. A brief fling with wanting to be Jane Goodall earned her a biology degree as well. She met her husband, a confirmed reader of fantasy and science fiction, at college. Burnt Offerings is the latest and her seventh Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter book.

ISFDB Bibliography
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site
Laurell K. Hamilton Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Recently, Roc Books has done a service to fans of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by bringing back into print Hamilton's first novel, the non-vampiric fantasy Nightseer. While Hamilton's fans, I'm sure, will run out and purchase this novel in masses, I'm not convinced that this is a book which will convert many readers to Hamilton's legions.

The world in which Nightseer is set seems to have an early English nomenclature (Kereios: Celtic, Elwine: Anglo-Saxon), however none of the rest of those cultures enter into Hamilton's mix. Although this is a bonus as far as Hamilton's originality is concerned, one would wish she showed the same imagination in names in order to send the reader the correct signals of what to expect.

Kereios is a prophet, enchanter and sorcerer who learns of her powers when she is five, shortly before her mother is horribly slain by her nemesis Harque. Kereios vows to avenge her mother and the action jumps forward eighteen years to a time when Kereios has already been accredited a master by the local college of magic, only to be busted down to journeyman when she suddenly acquires a new form of magic which she can't control. Unfortunately, the college, where much of the opening section of the book is set, is never clearly defined either of itself or in relation to the world around it.

Hamilton very clearly knows how her world is set up and the histories of all her characters. Unfortunately, she doesn't filter the information, parceling out the reader pieces of information which are not necessary to know in such a manner that the reader can't easily put together a coherent picture of the world at large.

If there is one thing which Nightseer has in plenty, it is action. Battles rage throughout the book as character attempt to settle old scores, leading the reader to presume that Kereios's world is extremely dysfunctional. Unfortunately, much of the action comes across as meaningless to the reader and gets in the way of any realistic character, plot ot world-building.

While Hamilton's fans might applaud the re-release of her first novel, this really is only a novel for her die-hard fans. For the rest, it is, I'm afraid, a reminder of why many first novels disappear from the shelves, only to be found in used bookstores.

Copyright © 1998 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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