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Lost Voices 16: Silverlock by John Myers Myers


By John Myers Myers 

4 May, 2000

Lost Voices


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John Myers Myers

Ace Books [1979]

516 pages

Synopsis: Clarence Shandon is adrift, both spiritually and literally, his ship, the Naglfar , having sunk suddenly while at sea. He manages to survive the wreck and when he makes his way to a floating spar finds another man already clinging to it. This man is Golias, a bard. Eventually, they manage to reach an island, apparently deserted.

Cannibals visit the island and while they are killing and eating a prisoner, Golias and Silverlock” Shandon [as Golias calls him, after a lock of white hair Shandon has] steal the cannibals’ canoe and make their way to the island of Aeaea. Shandon, who is utterly self-centered and unlikable, abandons Golias and meets a pretty woman named Circe.

Unfortunately for Shandon, he is totally innocent of folk tales and literature [He’s a Business Admin grad] and he attempts to seduce Circe, getting turned into a pig for his troubles. Golias rescues him and they escape the island. 

After making their way to the mainland with the help of a ship full of warriors, Golias and Shandon help the warriors but are separated in the battle, which their side loses badly. Shandon makes his way across the countryside, having minor adventures and meeting various fictional and legendary figures like Robin Hood. He and Golias eventually meet up again, and decide to help a young man named Lucius regain his fiancé’s hand. The young man is the victim of slander and his own weak nature with respect to women. She is promised to a rival by the King. Worse, having decided he had lost her forever, Lucius sleeps with a lady of negotiable favours and manages to be seen by his ex-fiancé leaving the lady’s room. Even worse, his fiancé is the kidnapped by his rival. Not being the brightest of people, Lucius then manages to get himself transformed into a donkey. Despite all this, the three manage to get Lucius to the wedding and turned back into a man in time to save the girl, kill the villain and for the two lovers to reconcile and get married.

Shandon has managed to be placed under a geas to travel to the Hippocrene and to drink from it three times, if he can. He must make the journey along and so, rather sad to leave Golias, he sets out to find the Hippocrene. He meets up with a boat load of peoplecaptained by a man with a cynical and self-serving attitude similar to the one Shandon started out with. Shandon is sold into slavery to a group of brutal religious fanatics; escaping, he makes his way on, meeting Job and then finally meeting a man named Faustopheles. Shandon makes the serious error of making a bargain with Faustopheles, who is supposed to guide Shandon to the Hippocrene. The route chosen runs more or less through literary hell: Shandon is introduced to a number of damned figures from history and literature, as Faustopheles tries to break his spirit. Finally meeting the lord of the hell-like realm, Shandon is on the verge of succumbing to damnation when Golias shows up. Golias all along has been a man of many names:

one of them is Orpheus and he is there to rescue Shandon.

Through Golias’ intervention, Shandon is put on trial before three judges. He manages to be freed [on a 2 vs 1 decision] and makes his way to the Hippocrene. He is only able to drink twice, instead of the full three. This grants him a richer spirit but gets him expelled from the realm he is in, back into the ocean. Despite this expulsion, he is a vastly better and happier man, and he struggles to survive, with every expectation that he will.

Description does no justice to the book.

I picked this up in 1979, in a very crowded SF store in San Francisco, attracted by the blurbs on the cover by Pournelle, Anderson and Niven. On the inside, there are three very enthusiastic reviews by the three, plus an afterword by Karen Anderson. You can add this review: Silverlock turned out to be one of my favourite fantasy novels, up there with The Princess Bride and later, Bridge of Birds . My only criticism of the book might be a self-criticism:I miss many, no, most of the references. Certainly, worth hunting out, Silverlock is currently out of stock but in theory still in print from both Ace Books and Lightyear Press. Best bet is to look for it used, sadly.

I notice Jim Baen was the editor responsible for bringing it back out when he was at Ace.

John Myers Myers had a reasonably long career, both as a historian and later as a fantasy author. His current silence is due to his death in in 1988.