City of a Million Legends.  Berkley, 1985 
First Lifewave Book 2

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The story opens during a mating between Arshel and Khelin where Zref is in attendance along with Khelin's bhirhir, Ley.  

This is Zref's story, and told entirely from Zref's point of view, picking up the characters from Molt Brother -- Zref Ortenau MorZdersh'n and Arshel Holtethor-Lakely along with the nonhuman relative of Zref, Khelin and Khelin's bhirhir, the human Ley.  

City is the story of Zref's struggle to reconcile and integrate two universe models (or sciences), the one which creates computers, interstellar travel, and instantaneous communications, and the other that studies ESP and reincarnation and is taught at schools such as Mautri in the city of Firestrip on Camiat from the point of view of the reptile-like, venomous kren.  

The connecting link between these two sciences is probability theory, and the phenomenon of a living creature warping probability in their physical vicinity.  

As the story opens, Zref is being made acutely aware of the probability anomaly that exists in the vicinity of his "brother" Khelin MorZdersh'n.  Six times in succession, Khelin has spawned viable offspring via a salt water kren female, Arshel.  

The probability warp turns out to be integral to this new concept of the universe he is learning.  Luck - what is it, where does it come from, how is it generated, how come some have it and some don't?  Can it be controlled?  Should it be controlled?

As the mating climaxes, Zref receives a messaage that someone is waiting to talk to him.  This is a Hundred Planets Agent who wants Zref and Arshel to come and search officially for the Mazeheart Object - an object reputed to confer the powers of the Persuaders.  

The Persuaders were -- according to the Lantern Novels which dramatize archeological finds -- able to make anyone want to do anything.  A person was made a Persuader by walking the Maze and finding the Mazeheart Object.  To gaze upon it and survive was to emerge from the Maze a Persuader.  

Zref and Arshel will search for this object by travelling as undercover agents.  They will go on a Lantern Novels sponsored Pilgrimmage Tour of the Sacred Places of the Hundred Planets which is a perfectly reasonable thing for a Mautri Priest like Arshel to do as part of her training.  

Obstacles begin to dissolve, as if some Hand were shoving them in the direction of searching for the Mazeheart Object.  Khelin and Arshel are at last finished with their mating, and so Arshel and Zref are now free to pledge bhirhir.  Arshel prepares to attempt to become a White Priest of Mautri, breaking that bhirhir almost immediately, freeing Zref from his pledge to her taken at the end of Molt Brother.  

At this long awaited development, Zref experiences an unexpected anguished conflict.  Despite his original pledge to see her through to this point, and let her go, and despite his being an Interface, presumably devoid of any emotional need for a life's companion, he desperately wants to remain her bhirhir, now that he's finally pledged to her.  

They go to Mautri and Arshel becomes convinced that her destiny is not to seek the White immediately, but to accept the assignment to find the Mazeheart Object.  Khelin and Ley are likewise involved and will accompany Arshel and Zref.  

It is graphically clear by this time that there are dangerous forces converging on them - they have no choice but to aid the Hundred Planets government in the search for the Mazeheart Object.  They are immediately placed under tight security, and thus seem to disappear from their world as if dead.  

They are spirited away to the Pilgrimmage Cruise ship under deep cover -- and very quickly they discover that many other so-called tourists and Spiritual Seekers aboard the Cruise ship are really representing other factions -- greedily searching for the Object.  

The Guild Interfaces know that Zref is not in fact dead.  He still contacts the comnet and uses it occasionally.  But he is not a terribly successful Interface.  Nor is he a terribly successful human being - because as an Interface he doesn't feel the composit emotions, only the primary ones.

(TECH NOTE: there was an article in Psychology Today naming the Primary Emotions, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and in its mildest forms, Anticipation, Joy, and Acceptance.  All other emotions are composits of several of the above, and those composits Zref can't experience despite having access to his subconscious as other Interfaces do not.)

Zref has become the first kren Interface, despite the fact that he is physiologically human.  

The Cruise ship visits several legitimate spiritual centers, where various harrowing and informative adventures bring matters of luck and probability into focus for Zref.  There is an outbreak of plague that threatens Camiat and Arshel's children there.  

With one harrowing encounter after another, Zref confronts and resolves many of the remaining issues with how his Interface works, how it differs from the norms, and what he can and can not do (and whether he's a Wild Interface himself) -- and what all that has to do with his gradual retrieval of his past-life Identity, both as a White Priest of Mautri, and eons ago as the one who hid the Mazeheart Object.  

In the end, Zref and Arshel prevent the various factions who are hunting the Mazeheart Object from taking it.  But in the process, they both are exposed to it and they believe they have become Persuaders.  

They dare not return to Camiat and galactic civilization if they have this power.  They take a small ship and head for the edges of known space and a place to hide -- outside the reach of the Interface Guild, the comnet, and all they have ever known and treasured.  

The End











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This Page Was Last Updated by JL  07/26/15 02:24 PM EST (USA)



First Lifewave novels copyright 1980, 1982, 1985, 2000, 2005 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg.  All rights reserved. 

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