Reviews: Saunders, Graydon

Come to Burn Your Kingdom Down

The Human Dress — Graydon Saunders

Graydon Saunders’s 2018 The Human Dress is a standalone secondary-world fantasy novel.

Braemor lies just south of lands still claimed by the Walking Ice. It’s a challenging place for humans. It is barely post-glacial and home to humongous beasts that we might call “dinosaurs.” Misfortune or a bad winter could send the community into a death spiral.

So could a deliberate campaign of sabotage.

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Not quite Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters

Safely You Deliver — Graydon Saunders
Commonweal, book 3

Graydon Saunder’s 2016 Safely You Deliver continues the Commonweal series that began with The March North. It is a direct sequel to the second book in the series, A Succession of Bad Days.In fact, a reader could treat both of the later books as two halves of the same story. I generally don’t suggest back to back reading for series novels, but in this case it may be necessary.

The Commonweal’s experiment turning Edgar, Chloris, Dove, and Zora, a collection of humanoid potential existential threats—what superhero comics and movies might call “persons of mass destruction”—is still on-going. As the book opens, the end point of the experiment is still unclear.

What is clear is that Reems, one of the Commonweal’s neighbours, takes the Commonweal’s school for PMDs seriously enough to see it as a threat. They are worried enough to launch a pre-emptive attack, in the hopes of killing a potential dragon before it hatches out of the egg.

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Return to a world of ancient magic: or, so about those potatoes…

A Succession of Bad Days — Graydon Saunders
Commonweal, book 2

Graydon Saunders’ 2015 novel A Succession of Bad Days returns to the world of his earlier book, The March North. It takes place shortly after the events in that novel.

The Commonweal has struggled for centuries to achieve and defend a prosperous, stable, defensible and democratic state, one in which everyone is dealt with equitably, regardless of magical potential. Just say no to wizardly autocracies. The usual magical
training technique is aimed at preventing such misuse of magical powers by detecting potential mages young and steering them into appropriate courses. However … it may not be the only way to shape young wizards. Some of the Commonweal’s magical heavy-hitters have come up with an alternative, and the Commonweal is allowing them to experiment. If the experiment works, the Commonweal will be in much better shape to resist its enemies. If it doesn’t … well, the only thing at stake if Parliament gets it wrong is the fate of freedom on this magic-plagued world.

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A world of ancient magics

The March North — Graydon Saunders
Commonweal, book 1

Few now live who recall the great days of USENET newsgroups such as rec.arts.sf-lovers, rec.arts.sf.fandom, and [1]. Long ago, in that time mortal folk called the nineteen nineties, these groups were vibrant and interesting; we strode like gods across the internet. Well, we had even more arguments than the deities, but a lot less incest, which I think balances it all out. Graydon Saunders was one of the regulars, whom we called, in our quaint argot, ‘regulars.’ He became a writer of books. I became a reviewer of books. I am sure you can see where this is going.

2014’s The March North is set in a world where the written word has been around for perhaps a hundred thousand years, or perhaps even longer. Where magic has incessantly shaped and reshaped the environment (geological and biological). Where you cannot understand this world without knowing of magic and its history; it would be like trying to make sense of our world while ignoring the existence of grasses.

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