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To Visit the Queen
Diane Duane
Warner Aspect Books, 354 pages

Bob Goldstrom
To Visit the Queen
Diane Duane
Diane Duane has published 27 novels, numerous short stories, and various comics and computer games. Her husband, UK fantasy writer Peter Morwood, is a frequent collaborator: so far they share credits for 5 novels and are working on a 6th. Duane's freelance screenwriting work has included the widely acclaimed episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Where No One Has Gone Before." Her most recently aired screen work has included episodes of the animated Batman series and of Gargoyles.

Diane Duane Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Book of Night with Moon
SF Site Review: A Wizard Abroad

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

Diane Duane's new book returns us to the universe of her Young Wizards series and The Book of Night with Moon. In To Visit the Queen we again follow the exploits of the feline wizards that maintain the Gates between worlds. The story begins when a college student turns a corner at a London Underground Station and finds himself suddenly 100 years in the past, the result of a malfunctioning World Gate. In his panic, he drops the book he is carrying -- Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia. Then, miraculously, he returns to his own time, sans book. What's the consequence of leaving a volume of modern scientific knowledge in the past? Our feline wizards are about to find out...

Rhiow, Urrah and their young apprentice wizard, Arhu, enter the story when they are sent to London to help the resident team of wizards there deal with a malfunctioning gate. One of their gates is intermittently converting itself into an unstable timeslide. By the time the team is summoned, a bunch of people have slipped from the past to the present or from the present to different times in the past. Together with the London team, Rhiow, Urrah and Arhu must fix the gate and put everyone back into their proper time. But as they investigate they discover evidence that the Gate logs have been tampered with, and that the Lone Power may have had a hand in causing the problem.

As the title suggests, the team must travel back in time to visit Queen Victoria. Arhu has a vision that indicates the Queen is the focus of the Lone Power's latest plan. While the introduction of technology too early in the timeline is certainly a problem, the assassination of Queen Victoria spells certain doom for the wizard's timeline. They must uncover the plot, find the traitor in their midst, and set things right.

Fans of Duane's The Book of Night with Moon will be equally pleased with To Visit the Queen. If you haven't read Duane's other books set in this universe, you need not worry. For the most part the book can stand by itself. There's a nice introduction and a small glossary to get you up to speed. Cat-lovers, of course, will be thrilled. And for those who aren't, fear not -- at times I forgot that the characters were cats, until a bit of grooming slipped into the narrative (why is Rhiow licking her nose?).

Duane has obviously spent a great deal of time observing cats, as the habits her feline characters exhibit always seem surprisingly appropriate. Duane has taken traditional fantasy themes and breathed new life into them by placing cats and other animals into traditional human roles. The role reversal is especially touching for Rhiow. She is worried about her human, who is still grieving over the death of his longtime girlfriend. Even while busy with her wizardly duties, she tries to spend time with him everyday to offer him comfort. To Visit the Queen is an excellent sequel to The Book of Night with Moon. I'm looking forward to more stories featuring her feline wizards.

Copyright © 1999 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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