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The Immortals
Marilynn Byerly
The Fiction Works, 226 pages

The Immortals
Marilynn Byerly
Marilynn Byerly's writing passion is romantic adventure stories -- past, present, and future. In her creations of swashbucklers, true love, and villains to vanquish, she also likes to add a dash of magic. Her real life centres more sensibly around her family and pets. Her soulmate seems to be sitting out this incarnation, but she enjoys spoiling her niece and nephews, reading, organic gardening, and surprising people with glints of the adventurer within.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

In the future when the people of Earth reach out to the stars, what realities will they create? When we meet up with other sentient life forms, what will they think of us? It's not all beer and skittles out there and we're probably not the easiest humanoids to get along with. Maybe it's easier to get along without us.

Valerian Grant, captain of the Confederation Fleet ship Appomattox, has been called to Xenda to attend a state function. Not exactly the glorious mission he and his crew would prefer, but then they are in the name-is-mud file for the moment. But, as you would suspect, things are about to get much more complicated. Complicated and deadly. Before the pomp can begin, there are enemies -- real and imagined -- to deal with.

Queen Fira is the ruler of this Balkan-esque society. Xenda has retreated to the simpler, more agrarian life of the 19th century. That is how the settlers planned it. That's how it's going to stay. If the people and the planet survive. At least, they don't have to deal with dragons anymore, but the enemy they face could have dragons for lap dogs.

All they need to do now is to convince the Confederation officers that there is a true threat. It's not all that easy to prove the existence of the Immortals, who seem to be nothing more than myth. Don't worry, though, the crew is about to get more evidence than they really wanted -- evidence of an Immortal and human menace. Unless Valerian can help them with both crises, there won't be a planet to protect.

Byerly has created an interesting concept, a Camelot reachable only by intergalactic cruisers. She does such a good job of maintaining the atmosphere, that occasionally words or objects seem to be anachronisms. Just remember that elsewhere in the universe, people are eating food pills and drinking blue beer and women are in skintight clothing. Only on Xenda is chivalry not dead.

Despite the vivid mental images of Xendan court life, there are few characters who are fully fleshed out. Often, it is difficult to distinguish individuals by any trait other than name and you may find yourself flipping back through the book to reassure yourself. Soon, though, things are going to get considerably more confused. Just hold on and enjoy the story. And overlook the repetitive descriptions that crop up from time to time.

Interchangeable characters aside, The Immortals is quite a read. This is another one where you should give up trying to guess the outcome; there are so many twists, turns, and reversals you are going to be wrong almost every time and exhausted by the end. Byerly knows how to lay out an intricate plot and to keep it moving.

A story that space opera fans and sword-and-sorcery lovers can both enjoy. That's always satisfying to find.

Copyright © 1999 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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