Final Birthgrave

Quest for the White Witch — Tanith Lee
Birthgrave, book 3

Quest-for-the-White-Witch-1978

I only just now got my hands on a copy of 1978’s Quest for the White Witch , the third and final volume in Tanith Lee’s Birthgrave series. A fine choice for Throwback Thursday! If only this were Thursday and not Friday.

Heir to godlike powers that would make him lord of any land he cared to possess, Vazkor has but one aim: to find the goddess Karrakaz, the woman who abandoned him as a child. Having found her, he will have his revenge.


Vazkor son of Vazkor has only a vague idea where his mother may be. His journey takes him far across the ocean, from the land of his birth to Bar-Ibithni, a city as troubled, as filled with oppression, plots, and cults, as his abandoned homeland. Having no clear idea where his mother might be, he establishes himself as a healer-sorcerer of some note, hoping by his reputation to attract his lost mother’s attention.

What he succeeds in doing is entangling himself in the city’s complex politics. He becomes an ally of the bastard son of the king, also god to a mad cult, and the catalyst of riot and horror. Although he holds himself above mankind, even he is forced to realize that his help is often lethal (or worse) to those unfortunate enough to turn to him.

This bold gambit is not all that effective at drawing his mother out. Her home is far away and she is guarded by people who never figured into Vazkor’s plans: his siblings.

 ~oOo~

Some may be distressed to find that this book has a surprising amount of incest. But do consider: Vazkor, his mother and his siblings are of the Old Race, effectively gods. The rules of mortal folk do not apply to gods. Just ask Zeus and Hera.

I don’t know what fans of conventional sword and sorcery adventures might think of this book. Vazkor is ridiculously overpowered compared to the poor people who get in his way. He is master of sword and magic. His wounds heal almost instantly. Capture is an inconvenience that lasts until he mentally dominates his hosts into submission. Opposing him is generally a form of suicide.

Of course, as Vazkor eventually notices, allying with him is almost as deadly as opposing him, even for those allies for whom he feels a rudimentary affection. By his nature, he carves a bloody path through the world. A fair bit of the book documents Vazkor’s discovery that he is not the single minded hunter he had always believed himself to be. He is capable of other emotions … and those emotions, warring with his predatory urges, complicate his efforts at positive relationships. Character growth, in other words. Fans of traditional fantasy, beware!

DAW offers a modern edition of Quest for the White Witch , under the title Hunting the White Witch , along with new editions of the first and second volumes of the trilogy, The Birthgrave and Shadowfire.



Title

Missing or dead moms

Missing or dead fathers

The Birthgrave

1

1

The Storm Lord

1

1

Volkhavaar

2

2

Drinking Sapphire Wine

0

0

Night’s Master

2

1

Shadowfire

2

1

Death’s Master

3

3

Sabella

1

1

Day By Night

1

2

Silver Metal Lover

0

0

Delusion’s Master

1

1

Cyrion

0

0

Anakire

2

1

Sung in Shadow

1

0

The White Serpent

1

1

The Book of the Beast

0

1

Electric Forest

1

0

The Book of the Mad

1

2*

Lycanthia

0

0

A Heroine of the World

1

1

The Winter Players

0

2

Delirium’s Mistress

1


The Blood of Roses

2

1

Castle of Dark

1

0

Prince on a White Horse

0

0

Heart-Beast

0

0

Quest for the White Witch

1

0

Total

26

20*



* Includes one uncle.



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