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Children of Amarid
Book I of the Lon Tobyn Chronicle

David B. Coe
Tor Books, 591 pages

Children of Amarid
David B. Coe
David B. Coe grew up just outside of New York City. He went to Brown then Stanford studying US history receiving his Ph.D. in 1993. Coe works as a freelance writer. The sequel to Children of Amarid, titled The Outlanders, is due before the end of 1998. He lives with his wife Nancy, a biology professor, and daughter Alex in Tennessee.

David B. Coe Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Stephen M. Davis

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Remember when novelists used to write novels? Apparently that time has left us. Now, even beginning writers produce trilogies, which means stories that could have been told in 200 pages get dragged out for 1500 pages or more.

Children of Amarid is a decent, if fairly predictable, novel about a land called Tobyn-Ser, where technology is very basic and most of the important things, like medicine and wood-carving, are controlled by a group of magicians known collectively as the Order. Early in each magician's apprenticeship, he or she bonds with a familiar, which is almost always a hawk or owl.

It is this binding which gives the magician his power, and a mage whose familiar has died is a sorry sight.

Jaryd, who is the central character of the book, becomes a Hawk-Mage early on, and throughout the book we are given hints that Jaryd will become the most powerful member of the Order.

The central conflict in the novel revolves around a pre-invasion scorched earth operation launched by a powerful war-lord from the land of Lon-Ser. Mercenaries with awesome weapons are wandering around impersonating mages, hoping to cripple the Order by sowing mistrust amongst the people, and we discover that there is apparently a traitor in the midst of the magicians.

The story by itself is not bad, but the book suffers from some annoying flaws. Firstly, we are expected to believe that the people of Tobyn-Ser are going to abandon a thousand years of good- will towards the Order in a matter of weeks, merely on the basis of some random attacks by impostors. This is a little like imagining that Catholics are going to abandon Catholicism because someone dressed like the pope is robbing Fast Fares in Arizona. It just isn't going to happen.

Secondly, the traitor to the Order succeeds in bringing a group of mages up on a ridiculous charge of treason. It is not so much that the idea itself is bad, but the evidence that leads to the arrests of these mages is completely transparent.

There are some other minor quibbles that I had with the book, but insufficient character motivation is the book's major problem.

I think, as a first novel, Children of Amarid shows Dr. Coe to be a competent writer, but I'm unwilling to whole-heartedly endorse this series just yet. I hope Book II will provide the opportunity for Dr. Coe to show that he also has seen some of this book's flaws and has learned from them.

Copyright © 1998 by Stephen M. Davis

Steve is faculty member in the English department at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, S.C. He holds a master's in English Literature from Clemson University. He was voted by his high school class as Most Likely to Become a Young Curmudgeon.


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