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The Glasswrights' Progress
Mindy L. Klasky
Roc Books, 352 pages


Jerry Vanderstelt
The Glasswrights' Progress
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
SF Site Review: The Glasswrights' Apprentice
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Only two years have passed since the events of Mindy Klasky's debut novel, The Glasswrights' Apprentice, but the political situation is very different at the start of The Glasswrights' Progress, her second novel. King Shanoranvilli has died and been succeeded by his younger son, the untried Halaravilli. The old king's other surviving son, Bashanorandi has been revealed to be a bastard, but his erstwhile brother still includes him as a member of the royal family. On a more personal level, Ranita Trader, the main character in the first novel, is now a lady of Halaravilli's court, where she lives while trying to figure out a way to re-found the Glasswrights' Guild which was destroyed in the previous book.

In The Glasswrights' Apprentice, Klasky built an extremely complex and believable culture based on a system of castes. Her world had so much depth and credibility that the reader hardly noticed that all of the action took place in a single city, although a few vague references were made to the world outside the walls. In The Glasswrights' Progress, Klasky introduces the world beyond the walls from the first page, when Rani and Bashi leave the city to go hawking. Klasky also introduces the expansionist kingdom of Amanthia, which has its own complex social structure based on a mixture of castes and guilds which look to astronomical signs to determine which totem a person belongs to.

While Rani Trader was the focus of The Glasswrights' Apprentice, Klasky uses The Glasswrights' Progress to explore the use of multiple viewpoint characters. In addition to Rani's impressions of the world, the reader is treated to the armies of King Sin Hazar as seen by a foster mother, Shea, the councils of King Halaravilli, and Sin Hazar's view of the world as he tries to expand his kingdom. Klasky handles all of these voices well, demonstrating the characters' strengths and weaknesses and allowing the reader to see them all as flawed humans rather than heroes or villains. The closest Klasky comes to a true villain is probably Sin Hazar, yet Klasky explains his seemingly horrendous decisions in a logical manner which deflates the villainy. In a few cases, Klasky allows her characters actions to be based on the exigencies of the plot rather than her characterizations, but she does it in a manner which does not detract from the novel in general.

Rani is a good mirror to Halaravilli's kingdom. In the first novel, Rani was the most important character and Morenia was the only important location. In The Glasswrights' Progress, both are relegated to a more realistic place in the world, with Rani dealing with people who do not care about her background or achievements and Morenia facing neighbours who are likely more powerful than it is. While The Glasswrights' Apprentice was a story of Rani against the world, she has and maintains allies in The Glasswrights' Progress, with the story being more a story of diplomacy and war than the first. Klasky demonstrates that she can tell different types of stories using the same characters and doesn't fall into the trap so many authors do of maintaining a series by telling the same story repetitively.

Rani also has long range goals which are not the focus of The Glasswrights' Progress. Following the destruction of the Glasswrights' Guild, she vowed she would re-establish the guild at some point. In this book, she manages to work towards that goal, but as the novel ends, it remains a distant dream. Nevertheless, there is no doubt in Rani's mind, or the reader's, that she will eventually triumph. If Klasky plans to tell the story of Rani's re-establishment of the Glasswrights' Guild, it won't be in her next novel, which is set in the same world, but at a very different time than the two novels featuring Rani.

The Glasswrights' Progress is a strong follow-up to Klasky's debut novel, building on the strengths of the earlier book without succumbing to repetition. Klasky's characters remain strong and three-dimensional and her culture has become even more complex than the society in Morenia. She clearly knows the world in which she sets these stories and is happily allowing her readers get a glimpse of that world.

Copyright © 2001 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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