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Scion's Lady
Rebecca Bradley
Gollancz Books, 320 pages

Scion's Lady
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 and Scion's Lady, she wrote stories for two collections, Hong Kong Macabre and Hong Kong Grotesque.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Lady in Gil

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rodger Turner

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Do you get annoyed when somebody maneuvers you into doing something you don't want to do? Don't you wish they'd do something productive and leave you alone? After all, you're just trying to get on with your life and this sort of interference is something you don't need. Right?

Well, Tigrallef -- known to most as Tig -- is trying to do just that. He's the narrator of Scion's Lady and brother of the Priest-King, ruler in the newly restored kingdom of Gil. You'll remember he's our hero from Lady in Gil, Rebecca Bradley's previous book. You don't? You've not read it? That's not necessary (but you're missing a treat). Anyway, Tig is back at doing what he loves; being a memorian (or archivist) with his buddies, Angel and Shree. Things are calm and people are getting on with the restoration after 70 years of barbaric rule by the cursed Sherank. But unbeknownst to Tig, plans are afoot that will affect his blissful days. His brother Arkolef has decided to marry Tig off to a foreign princess from Miisheli in order to cement an alliance. Actually, it is the First Primate who has set this up since Arkolef isn't the brightest of lights. Tig realizes he'll have to go along with this arrangement but he's not pleased about it.

After the wedding to Princess Rinn, Tig and his bride sail off with her entourage to visit her homeland. He's discovered that, despite her beauty and upbringing, Rinn's world ends with the edge of her personal space and she's as randy as they come (with anybody). Not an enviable portent for the future. Then there are those accidents which resemble assassination attempts on him. Tig's not having much fun, folks. During a ferocious storm (Rinn barely noticed it), the royal ships are thrown off course and end up in Vassashinay. It's an island ruled by sorceress who presides over a volcanic human sacrifice-prompted oracle. She sees something in Tig just about the same time that the magical artifact called the Lady, thought destroyed, has come back to Tig. It seems everybody has plans for Tig without even consulting him.

I'm not a big fan of books or movies set on boats, ships, whatever. I'm not sure why (since I wasn't frightened by one as a child) but it may have to do with the limitations of space and getting on with the plot. This novel is an exception. Rebecca Bradley takes a such a dinky space and makes the events come together in a seamless story of deception, duplicity and evil. I think she'd write a terrific horror novel. Moving the narrative to an island topped with a volcano just trades cramped places but we begin to see the effect of external forces on Tig. He rises above these petty annoyances because he knows that he must escape them in order to save the lives of his friends and those who depend upon him. Unfortunately he may have to pay a price which he can't afford. Rebecca Bradley's prose offers us a degree of tension rarely seen except in work of more experienced authors. It is a taunt, exhilarating yet poignant portrait of characters involved in circumstances not of their making. Boy, I was glad to be reading it rather than being a part of it. I wasn't able to put down Scion's Lady until the last page was read. I gotta stop getting caught up in her work. It's not good for my brain.

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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