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The Gift
Patrick O'Leary
Tor Books, 288 pages

The Gift
Patrick O'Leary
Despite having only one other published novel, Door Number Three, O'Leary has garnered a broad base of fans for his fiction. The success of the first book has encouraged him to continue his craft while working as an Associate Creative Director at Campbell-Ewald Advertising in Warren, Michigan. He makes his home in Detroit with his wife and sons.

Patrick O'Leary's Website
SF Site Review: Door Number Three

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rodger Turner

For a guy who wrote a wonderful time travel novel, Door Number Three, I never would have guessed that Patrick O'Leary would have this kind of a fantasy novel in him. He jiggles, pokes, prods, menaces, finagles, and tickles most of the tropes we come to expect from a quest novel. But I only realized this after finishing The Gift, for the novel made me think about it. Not something, I must admit, that I'm prone to do much of after reading a book. I can't remember reading a novel which led me through so many emotions. I felt sadness (reading about the death of Tim's parents), irritation (at the constant story asides), joy (at seeing Clare and Simon together), boredom (at listening to The Usher's rants), smug (at seeing who lived and who didn't as I predicted), laughter (at Marty's wit and wisdom), and amazement (at finding the whole story approach worked for me).

The Gift is a story within many stories told by The Teller to a ship's captain and his crew. With the usual interruptions to remind you of the audience, O'Leary weaves a simple tale of a woodcarver's son, Tim, and a new king, Simon, and how they come to conquer the evil magic loosed in this world by The Usher, a scarred man who sold his soul to become a powerful wizard. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn how the king gained his throne, how Tim's family came to hold a forbidden magic, and how The Usher got so mean. Simon is losing his hearing and offers great riches to anyone who can heal him. To his throne room comes The Usher. While sitting on a throne carved by Tim's father, Simon is cured but it soon becomes obvious that the Usher has spelled him. Simon begins a savage journey that leads him through all manner of trial and pain. Curled up in a tree, imprisoned by Disabla, The Eater of Magic, and his Griffs (as fine a fantasy creature you're likely to meet), Tim drifts by and sets about trying to heal Simon.

The story follows the development of their friendship, their sharing of pain, their resourcefulness in extracting one another from ticklish situations and their willingness to trust each other. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what O'Leary was trying to tell me, but I knew that a fellow who could write Door Number Three had something important for me to understand. It was only hours later while washing my Sunday dishes that it occurred to me what it was. Life is a constant exchange. If you can't give something to someone, whether it be love, trust, companionship or whatever, you shouldn't expect anything in return. Life is a gift, growth is a shared experience, and you'll always gain something by giving to others. Thank you, Patrick O'Leary.

Copyright © 1997 by Rodger Turner

Rodger has read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in forty years. He can only shake his head and say, "So many books, so little time." More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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