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Quest for the Fallen Star
Piers Anthony, James Richey, and Alan Riggs
Tor Books, 228 pages

Quest for the Fallen Star
Piers Anthony
Piers Anthony is a pen name for Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob. The author of better than 100 published books, he is perhaps best known for his Xanth series of fantasy novels which now number twenty. His first novel, Chthon, was published in 1967. He lives in Inverness, Citrus County, Florida.

Piers Anthony Web Site
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Piers Anthony Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

Quest for the Fallen Star is set in a fantasy world inhabited by many of the traditional fantasy races: elves, dwarves, fauns, gnomes, and goblins. As you might guess, the plot of the book involves a quest, a search for an object upon which rests the fate of the world. We have seen this before, but the three authors manage to create a novel that contains a few unique elements. The Creation myth of this world plays a major role in the story, so it's worth explaining before going on:

"In the perfect emptiness, a Sphere was formed. And within the Sphere, the races were born. The Creation was perfect, and the Creator was perfection. The Sphere existed in balance, in harmony, and for the eyes of the Creator. For its existence was Beauty. Its purpose was Beauty."
Unfortunately, the perfection of Creation was flawed.
"A crack had appeared in the structure of Creation giving birth to the Abyss. And the Abyss had given birth to Evil."
The priesthood of the Realm is dedicated to repairing the flaw and making Creation whole again.

The story begins with the arrival of a message addressed to the Wizard A'mond, wizard of the elves of Lone Valley. A'mond is dead, however, and so Chentelle, a young elven enchantress, receives the message to find a human wizard, possessor of a powerful artifact called the Thunderstaff, and bring him to the Holy City. Chentelle feels obligated and sets out on her journey. Along the way she rescues a man who has been attacked by an Ill-creature -- a servant of the Dark One, an evil force thought to have been destroyed more than 60 years ago. Conveniently, the man she rescues, Sulmar, is a superlative fighter with a mysterious past, who has been exiled from his homeland. In return for saving his life, Sulmar pledges his service to Chentelle until her journey ends. The two travel on together in their search for the wizard A'stoc who joins them, bringing along the Thunderstaff. Upon arriving they meet Father Marcus Alanda, High Bishop of the Holy Order. Joining them is a group of Legionnaires who have also been summoned to help.

But Father Marcus reveals that there is an even greater danger to Creation -- a Fallen Star has struck the Realm far to the north. It represents a terrible threat to the entire world and the group must destroy it before it falls into the Dark One's hands. First, however, they must seek out the Sphere of Ohnn, which, in conjunction with the Thunderstaff, is the only thing that can destroy the Fallen Star. The party sets out on their journey, combating the Dark One's servants at every step. The journey is not without its costs, and a number of the party must make terrible sacrifices along the way.

Quest for the Fallen Star has a number of interesting fantasy concepts. The first, already mentioned, is the Creation myth. The peace and serenity of the original Creation still lingers in the most holy places and can also be invoked by the priests of the Holy Order. They are beneficent men, dedicated to peace and healing. Their belief that Evil is a flaw and can be healed is in stark contrast to the concept that Good and Evil, Light and Dark, are eternal adversaries, destined to always be in conflict. The original flaw, of course, is like that of Christianity -- the original sin by Adam destroying the perfection of the garden of Eden.

The elven enchantress, Chentelle, is also very interesting. Enchantresses are very rare in this world, but incredibly gifted. Chentelle works her magic through a gift of song, in tune with nature and its creatures. She is able to communicate and influence animals, feel what others are feeling and shape wood with her gift. Though she believes that she is only a messenger and an insignificant member of the party, she plays an important role in the quest.

The third interesting concept is the Lore used by the wizards. Magic in the Realm is temporary, lasting only as long as the creating wizard lives. But A'stoc's master had discovered a way to make magic permanent by harnessing the power of Earthpower. Earthpower is intimately associated with Creation and can be used to change Creation itself. Only one man had mastered Earthpower, A'stoc's master, and his knowledge died with him. One of A'stoc's tasks is to rediscover the ability to manipulate Earthpower and master the Thunderstaff.

The book is not without its problems, though. Wrapping up the whole story in one book has its drawbacks. The book feels rushed throughout. Chentelle is off on her quest for A'stoc three pages into the book. Twelve pages after that, she has a sworn liege man pledged to follow her and guard her until the end of her journey. The ending especially is bound to disappoint many readers. The climax of the story is really only the last 30 pages or so.

At places, I would have preferred the authors to step back and give a few more details. Details about Lone Valley, about the Holy Land and the Holy City, about the way magic works, about some of the people and places the party encounters. The character development is fine, if somewhat exaggerated. Each of the characters has a definite personality, though somewhat stereotyped. The good and gentle Father Marcus, dedicated healer and reverent man. Chentelle, the young naïve enchantress, who is full of goodness and caring and doesn't understand her importance. Sulmar, the reticent exile, utterly devoted to protecting Chentelle. A'stoc, the bitter and withdrawn wizard who has a rough exterior covering a sensitive interior that he wants no one to see. The Legionnaires, dedicated warriors willing to sacrifice their lives for their cause. It would have been nice to have characters who were a little more complex and a little less predictable.

Quest for the Fallen Star has all the elements of a classic fantasy quest novel. It is a fine story, if a little rushed and rather predictable. In a sense, it's both a disappointment and a relief that it is all told in one book. There is a lot of potential with the world and the concepts, but you'll be happy you won't have to wait for years to see how it all ends.

Copyright © 1998 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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