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Reviews by Contributor: Eisenstein, Phyllis (3)

A Magic Web With Colours Gay

Sorcerer’s Son  (Book of Elementals, book 1)

By Phyllis Eisenstein  

20 Dec, 2020

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

4 comments


1979’s Sorcerer’s Son is the first volume of Phyllis Eisenstein’s secondary-universe fantasy series, Book of Elementals. Sorcerer’s Son is a coming-of-age novel. 

Sorcerer Smada Rezhyk proposes marriage to Sorcerer Detivev Ormoru; she declines with a simple no.” Rezhyk concludes that this must indicate hostility, indeed must show that she is bent on his destruction! Aware that his bitter enemy’s command of nature makes her a formidable enemy, Rezhyk dispatches his most trusted demon Gildrum to distract Detivev long enough for Rezhyk to forge invincible armour for himself.

A direct attack would invite a direct response. Therefore, Gildrum takes the guise of a handsome young man named Mellor, the better to seduce the sorceress. 

The demon is successful beyond their wildest dreams.


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Continuing this week’s theme of travelling entertainers

Born to Exile  (The Tales of Alaric the Minstrel, book 1)

By Phyllis Eisenstein  

7 Jun, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Phyllis Eisenstein’s award-winning 1978 Born to Exile takes us to a secondary world not unlike Medieval Europe, at least as perceived from the US. It’s a world with all the dangers and prejudices of old Europe minus (as far I can tell) anything like the Church. It is a region divided into pocket feudalisms, without any grand unifying authority. Although someone is working on that last detail.…

It’s also a world with magic or at least something that will do until genuine magic comes along. Alaric the Minstrel has a fine voice but he also has a special talent, a talent so very special that if any of the people listening to him sing had the faintest inkling he had such an odd talent, they would build a special commemorative bonfire with Alaric as the centerpiece.


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Pointed social commentary undermined by unfortunate world-building choices

Shadow of Earth

By Phyllis Eisenstein  

28 Sep, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Eisenstein is probably better known for her Alaric the Minstrel stories, if only because that’s still an on-going series; the most recent Alaric story, Caravan to Nowhere” appeared in 2014’s Rogues. As it happens, Eisenstein is one of those authors for whom I discover in retrospect I am a completist, so I could have reviewed Born to Exile, the first Alaric fix-in. Instead I decided to go with the considerably more obscure Shadow of Earth, a tale of a modern American woman who finds herself trapped in a backward world where her only value is as a brood mare of rare breed: a full-blooded white woman! 

Some aspects of this novel have aged more gracefully than other elements.

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