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Lady in Gil
Rebecca Bradley
Gollancz Books, 288 pages

Lady in Gil
Rebecca Bradley
Rebecca Bradley was born in Vancouver, in 1952. She received a Ph.D. from Cambridge, and spent eighteen years living in England, Ulster, Kuwait and Hong Kong before returning to live in Calgary with her husband and children. She teaches archaeology part-time at Mount Royal College. Before doing Lady in Gil, she wrote stories for two collections, Hong Kong Macabre and Hong Kong Grotesque.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rodger Turner

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While reading Lady in Gil, the image of yarn being pulled through a hole in the wall was constant. Wonderful colours, marvelously textured, but what was it before the unravelling began? We begin with a little story of a royal family in exile --the Scions of Oballef -- who are surrounded by a small but loyal group of retainers. Tigrallef, better known as Tig, plans to be an memorian -- an archivist -- since his big brother Arkolef is next in line, should they ever return to the island of Gil. The way to return is to find the magical statue of the Lady in Gil, the source of power which was hidden before the evacuation during the dreaded Sherank invasion. For 70 years, the next Scion has been sent to Gil to retrieve the statue, take the power, and restore the family's reign, but none of them has returned: all are presumed dead. Now, it is Arkolef's turn, but the big goof breaks his leg putting on his armour backwards. The quest falls to Tig, much to his chagrin.

Rebecca Bradley has done a remarkable job in conjuring up fresh characters, vibrant plotting and marvelous settings. I sometimes dread picking up a fantasy, wondering whether the writer will stoop to the stereotypes and archetypes I've seen hundreds of times over. Lame plots, whiny characters and a bottomless wealth of pointless detail all make me shudder at the prospect. Not here, folks. Rebecca Bradley has woven an intriguing tale of honour, horror and dignity which explores whether there is any nobility in being true to your family, people, and heritage, and the lengths one should go to stand by them. Tig tries to maintain the aspect of a royal on a mission, all the while knowing that he is undertrained, outgunned, and seriously out of his depth. But, he listens, he tries to understand what is going on around him, and he has a genuine respect for those he encounters -- good or bad. My kind of guy.

With a wry, irascible manner, Tig lands in Gil and gets caught by the Web underground. He learns something of what has happened since the invasion and the fates of his predecessors, and falls head-over-heels for Calla, one of the underground leaders. Her influence in the city is something more than most people know. She can lead him to the statue, but at what cost to herself and Tig? It is by no means a foregone conclusion that they'll succeed, for the underground hides a traitor in their midst.

This novel, told in the first person, is for any of you looking for breath of fresh air. At various times, this novel of betrayal and revenge reminded me of a cross between Terry Pratchett and Glen Cook: not bad company, in my opinion. A final word of warning, I couldn't find a US publisher for Rebecca Bradley, so you may have to shell out for an import.

Copyright © 1998 by Rodger Turner

Rodger has read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in forty years. He can only shake his head and say, "So many books, so little time."


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