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Eyes of Silver
Michael A. Stackpole
Bantam Books, 447 pages

Art: Stephen Youll
Eyes of Silver
Michael A. Stackpole
Michael A. Stackpole was born in Wausau, Wisconsin, in 1957 and grew up in Vermont. He sold his first gaming project to Flying Buffalo in 1977. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 1979 with a BA in History, he moved and has lived in Arizona ever since. In 1987, FASA hired him to write the Warrior trilogy of BattleTech novels.

Michael A. Stackpole Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by S. Kay Elmore

Michael A. Stackpole has been a longtime contributor to the SF literary, comics and gaming world. He's provided fans of Star Wars, BattleTech, and many different role-playing games with some of the best series, articles, and reference material around. His new novel, Eyes of Silver, takes a break from the world of media fiction to present the story of an entirely new world.

Eyes of Silver is set on an alternate earth. It's a place where magick is commonplace, ships navigate the air, and politics get very, very nasty. Once, a mystical warrior, Keerana Dost, held a vast empire and commanded the largest fighting force ever known. Now, eight centuries later, his descendants squabble over the remnants of the empire, sustained by the rumours that the Dost will be reborn to rule again. A vicious triangle of enemies and allies vie for power, each determined to further their own goals.

Deep in the high desert of Helansajar, Rafiq Khast leads his clan of nomads against Shukri Awan, a brutal warlord who deposed Rafiq's family from their rule of the city of Helor. Prophesy tells that the Dost can only be reborn in Helor, and that the city was entrusted to the Khast clan by Keerana Dost himself. Prophesy also tells that Awan will be the father of the Dost reborn, but his betrayal marks him for Khast vengeance.

In Ilbeoria, the warrior-priests of Saint Martin protect and serve, charged by God and their patron Saint Martin to be protectors of the innocent. Their powerful battle magicks have saved Ilbeoria from invasion, and their airships rule the skies. At Sandwicke, the Martinist training school, Uriah Smith and Robert Drury incite the wrath of their instructors with a hypothetical battle plan for the city of Helor. They staunchly defend their unpopular strategy and find themselves under the scrutiny of Malachy Kidd, the blinded warrior-priest whose silver eyes seem to see far more than they should.

From the shadows of her father's throne, Princess Natalya Ohanscai has learned the shrewd art of high court politics. She doesn't entirely trust the men who are about her father's business, and with his blessing, travels to a far-flung outpost to learn who is scheming against him. The journey is sweetened by the presence of her beloved, Grigory Khrolic, an officer of the famed Bear Hussars fighting force. His command of a massive Vandari Ram (a battle armour that becomes one with the wearer) ensures both her personal safety and the defense of her father's Kingdom, Strana.

All three nations are drawn together by the appearance of a mysterious man who may or may not be the Dost reborn. If true, the consequences of his rebirth could shatter the tenuous hold on throne and country, and crush every notion of religious faith that both bind and divide the three nations.

Eyes of Silver is full of military strategy, complicated politics, and steeped in deep religious philosophy that has many obvious parallels to our own world. The prevailing cultures are heavily based on England, Russia, and the Middle East -- but don't let the similarities fool you. These nations are nothing like their Earthly counterparts. It's hard to take sides in this novel because Stackpole gives us a warts-and-all view of each side of the conflict. As it is with any nation, you have to take the good with the bad because there is no fairy-tale Kingdom in the real world.

Stackpole is very adept at military SF, and although a few of the characters are stereotypical, they carry the story well. With a novel so heavily influenced by armies, strategy and politics, it's not surprising that the story's tone is more macho than romantic, despite the buxom princess on the cover. Another notable mention is that the novel seems to be just that: A novel. It's not advertised as the first episode of an epic, which in itself is refreshing. It's been a long time since I've read a fantasy novel that had a satisfying ending when I closed the cover.

Copyright © 1999 S. Kay Elmore

S. Kay Elmore is a graphic artist, writer and corporate wage slave. She edits The Orphic Chronicle, an online magazine, and tries to make ends meet by writing and developing corporate newsletters and web sites.

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