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The Garden of the Stone
Victoria Strauss
Avon EOS Books, 485 pages

The Garden of the Stone
Victoria Strauss
Victoria Strauss is the author of three young adult fantasies: The Lady Of Rhuddesmere, Worldstone, and Guardian Of The HillsThe Arm of the Stone was her first publication for an adult audience. She's a regular contributor to SF Site's reviews, and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Author's Guild. A 'voracious and eclectic' reader, she lives in New York with her husband and three cats.

Victoria Strauss Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Arm of the Stone

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Pat Caven

I received two very unique surprises on reading this latest novel from new author Victoria Strauss. For one thing, I wasn't really looking forward to reading it. I had just put down an incredibly intense mystery novel (The Widow Killer), set in Prague near the end of WWII, translated from Czech and an analogy for the disillusionment of the Third Reich and the German people. Whew... a tough act to follow. To pick up a fantasy novel, no matter how well written, could seem just as incredibly banal as the other was overwhelming, and might be totally unfair to the author. But Strauss pulled me into her world with such deft surety I was quite amazed.

The Garden of the Stone takes place 30 years after the events of The Arm of the Stone, Strauss' first novel. This also led to some trepidation on my part, as I hadn't read the first book and few fantasy novels written these days are stand-alones. But this is, since the events of the first book are placed in the narrative in such a way (the passing on of a legend) that it can't slow down the action and, in fact, connects you solidly to the flow of it.

The story starts out quickly as Bron's daughter (the hero of The Arm of the Stone) is now a Gifted operative in a Resistance fighting the Order of the Guardians. The Guardians ruthlessly protect the Limits to keep their world free of the evils of technology and to maintain their control on the talents of the Gifted. Bron stole the Stone (upon which the powers of this world are based) and vanished into the world of Handpower. As the bindings of their world begin to unravel, Cariad, Bron's daughter, seeks to fulfill a destiny that foresees her father's return -- a prophecy where she will finally meet her celebrated father and together they will bring down the Guardians for all time. But the prophecy is not as complete as she might think and it is how she gets there that is this tale.

Strauss has constructed a very detailed and complex world. One to appeal to fans of Katherine Kurtz, Melanie Rawn and C.J. Cherryh, but with a subtlety that lets the drama of events speak for itself. There is a confidence here, a certainty of plot and character, pacing and style. I would only hope that her next book has a better cover. Although well executed, it screams "girl book" and cuts off an audience that would find everything about this book as appealing as I did.

Oh. And the second surprise? I'm always saying I hate sequels. That they never live up to the promise of the first book. That it's just more of the same-old, same-old. But if the sequel makes you want to run right out and read the first book, you know you've got a keeper.

Copyright © 2000 Pat Caven

Pat Caven was (and perhaps in some ways still is) a local bookseller. She has now wandered into the public domain.

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