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The Glasswrights' Apprentice
Mindy L. Klasky
Roc Books, 336 pages

The Glasswrights' Apprentice
Mindy L. Klasky
Mindy L. Klasky was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Dallas, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. After beginning college as a computer science major, she graduated with a degree in English. She attended law school and practiced trademark and copyright law with a major Washington firm for 6 years. Then, she returned to school and earned a degree in library science. She now manages the library reference department in a large Washington law firm. She is an active member of the SFWA (currently serving as co-chair of the Contracts Committee), as well as many legal bar organizations and library societies.
Mindy L. Klasky Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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The Glasswrights' Apprentice is significant for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps foremost, this novel is the introductory foray into fantasy for Mindy L. Klasky. Furthermore, in a time when it is common for authors to explode on the scene with massive, multi-volume epics that force the reader to continue to purchase novels over several years to discover the outcome of the story, The Glasswrights' Apprentice is an entirely self-contained story.

The focus of Klasky's tale is Rani, the 13-year-old apprentice of the title. A typical errand to deliver lunch to one of her instructors leads Rani to witness the assassination of a popular prince. Rani's subsequent flight from the royal guards provides her with a firsthand view of the six castes which make up her culture.

At the lowest level, Rani is forced to associate with the Touched, a class of street urchins who are the beggars and outcasts of society. No matter what her actual association with the Touched is, Rani cannot leave behind the bogeyman tales of them with which she was raised.

Prior to entering the Glasswrights' Guild, Rani was a member of a merchant family, and she has the opportunity to rejoin that caste, at least temporarily, during her attempts to find the rest of her family.

Rani next finds herself under the protection of a member of the warrior class. As an outsider to this group, Rani views the soldiers with almost as much suspicion as she did the Touched. Finally, posing as a member of the pilgrim caste, Rani manages to attach herself to the highest caste of all as a member of the royal family.

Although The Glasswrights' Apprentice serves as a tour of Klasky's culture, that tour is not the raison d'etre of the novel. Klasky includes a Byzantine plot which is only set in motion with the murder of Prince Tuvashanoran. During Rani's attempts to secure her safety and find her family, she discovers that the Prince's death is tied to a cabal which is intent on eradicating the caste system which permeates every aspect of society.

Many of Klasky's portrayals border on satire, although there is no sense that satire was intended. Prince Tuvashanoran is the perfect prince, whose acts of charity can change the weather. The leader of the resistance is one of the most handsome men in the kingdom. In many cases, Klasky appears to be perpetuating the standard clichés of fantasy literature; however, she quickly manages to move beyond the clichés and bend them so they become an integral part of her world.

While The Glasswrights' Apprentice is a complete story, Klasky has provided the basis for several further tales set in this world. There would be plenty of opportunity for her to explore aspects of the society which she only touches on here, or to develop the changes which she seems ready to instigate should she choose to write any sequels. Klasky's future novels, whether continuations of the world of The Glasswrights' Apprentice or completely new and innovative worlds, will be worth watching for.

Copyright © 2000 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver in one of SF Site's Contributing Editors as well as one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He is Vice-Chairman of Windycon 28 and 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. Steven is a Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer. He lives in Illinois with his wife, daughter and 4000 books.


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