Saturday, 29 September 2001

Alan Dean Foster: The Hour of the Gate (1984)

Edition: Orbit, 1991
Review number: 949

The novels in the original Spellsinger series make up a continuous narrative much more than most fantasy sagas do. This, the second, concerns preparations to resist the plans of the Plated Folk (insects) to overrun the Warmlands, where most of the animals of the alien world on which Johntom found himself stranded in Spellsinger live.

The Hour of the Gate is the least humorous novel in the series, and this exposes some shortcomings despite the clearly professional way in which the novel is put together. This is particularly the case with the description of the trip into the territory of the Weavers, where the companions encounter strange, almost allegorical monsters, which they relate to the causes of nightmares. The tone in this passage is different, the creatures are unconvincing, and Jontom's companions indulge in superficial philosophising.

Things improve towards the end, and there are some shocks in store for the first time reader. However, the end itself is a let down. Like the rest of this series, re-reading The Hour of the Gate has proved something of a disappointment.

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