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Walker Between the Worlds by Phyllis Eisenstein
Posted byDave Truesdale
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Cover art by Ed Emshwiller
"Walker Between the Worlds" by Phyllis Eisenstein
May 25th, 2007 marked the publication by KaCSFFS Press of Phyllis Eisenstein’s new novella "Walker Between the Worlds." This 38,000 word fantasy comprises the opening eight chapters of a new novel, the first in a forthcoming trilogy.
In a foreword, the author explains:
“‘Walker Between the Worlds’ is an excerpt from the first volume of a trilogy-in-progress, the overall title of which will be The Masks of Power. It is the tale of the long-dead DragonKing, who had made human folk into slaves, and of a Lady of Air and Darkness, who holds the balance of power among the New Gods who ended the reign of the dragons. ‘Jack Walker,’ a man of our Earth, wakes naked one night on a cold hill side in this other world, not knowing who he is or where he came from or why. The only clue to his identity, the medallion emblazoned with the Lady’s sigil hanging about his neck, which carries great import for all who see it there…and marks him for a special role in the struggle for dominion over the primeval powers of this world.”
Long before this story takes place—and is what forms the overall story arc—the reign of the dragons was ended by three humans: Eleanor, Adrian, and Jon. Jon became the Hero when he sacrificed himself in a fight to the death with the DragonKing, ending the dragons’ rule. The remaining pair, Eleanor and Adrian, now known as the New Gods, rule the dragons, who silently await the time when they will be rescued from their own bondage.
“Walker Between the Worlds” begins when the Lady of Masks discovers a descendant of her centuries’ deceased lover, Jon Scholar, on a cold hillside, wearing the medallion which figures in different ways throughout much of the story. She names him Jehan. She brings him on the wings of a dragon to her wondrous Palace of Light, where she tells him about himself, for he has forgotten all during his strange transportation to this bleak new world.
In alternating chapters from those granting glimpses into the dark realm of the Lady of Masks, the grandiose Palace of Light, and the young man Jehan, we are shown our own familiar earth, where a peasant shepherd lad named Rob also finds a naked man, and they befriend each other after Rob runs away from his abusive father. This man, through strange dreams he has of another land, comes to know himself as Jack. Jack and Rob set off for the nearest large trading city, Jack to see someone there who might hold a clue to his true identity, and Rob, to find his place in the world.
In short, we have a dark and frightful realm with flying, shape-shifting dragons, an evil army of the undead variety, and an immense palace. We are given hints of evil schemes and plots, and an ongoing struggle for power between the two remaining New Gods, Eleanor and Adrian. We are also presented with the storylines of Jack and Rob on our own much brighter, more familiar world; a more or less medieval world where thieves and merchants and marketplaces are the norm, and two unlikely travelers search for their destinies unaware of how their world will soon intersect with the darker world with which the characters of Jack and Jehan are inextricably intertwined.
“Walker Between the Worlds” is a great teaser for the forthcoming novels and I found myself quickly drawn into its worlds and characters. Eisenstein has given us a colorful, plot-rich introduction here, with several sets of characters with whom we can identify in varying measure, and her hand and vision are those of the born storyteller. Her books never disappoint and often leave the reader begging for more, and this one is no exception.
“Walker Between the Worlds” can be ordered directly from KaCSFFS Press by emailing the publisher at: SolarWind1@aol.com