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April 2003
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Changeweaver (book review)

Changeweaver, by Margaret Ball, 1993 Baen, ISBN 0-671-72173-9, 298pp, pbk

I discovered Margaret Ball quite by chance when I purchased "Lost in translation", a rather charming tale of a somewhat ditzy young woman of college age who chanced to be transported to a parallel Earth where magic of a sort works. It took her half of the book to figure out that she wasn't in Kansas (more precisely, California) anymore. I hoped that Margaret Ball would become of my select list of of favored SF&F authors whose works can be purchased sight unseen with every confidence that they can be read and read with pleasure.

For some time I wasn't able to find any of her works, a problem due in part to my residence in third world America, in part due to the sporadic and erratic nature of my forays into bookland, and to my unwillingness to engage in modern web based commerce. The latter failing may be due to an over lively awareness of the weaknesses of internet security.

In due course, however, I located several of her works, purchased them, and added them to the pile of books not yet read. Said pile is rather larger than it should be - my life has become strewn with hour long walks, large black dogs, gourmet low calorie meals, machines devised by the devil, and, most importantly of all, time spent in the company of a most delectable and delightful woman. These activities, whilst rewarding and worthwhile, each in their own way, leave little time for reading.

None-the-less, conscience, that sickly paladin that doth insidiously sap our strength, did nag at me until, unable to resists its urgings, I opened one of her books at random, the aforesaid "Changeweaver".

I was disappointed.

It is not a bad book. It moves, and it has some interesting ideas, but it didn't engage me. There is a hero and a heroine, the heroine being by far the most consequential character, an evil menace, villains but no pre-eminent villain, a trip with dangers, and a bit of prosing about morality. In short, yet another commercial fantasy. There are redeeming features: There are no elves. The setting is neither medieval nor urban. And the hero is not irredeemably stupid.

For me it suffers from the terrible six ("I don't care about these characters") and the deadly five ("Nothing in it grabs me.")

I do have one quarrel with the book and that is with its presentation of "the Buddha nature" and the term "illusion". Enlightenment is presented as a superior sort of magic that allows her heroine to manipulate reality (the change weaving) to her own desire. Mysticism as a McGuffin rather misses the point of mysticism.


This page was last updated April 1, 2003.

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April 2003
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