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Sime~Gen Inc. Presents

Recommended Books

January 2002

"The Maturing Voice"


Jacqueline Lichtenberg

 To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg, jl@simegen.com for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  
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A Feast In Exile by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Tor hc. Oct. 2001

Narcissus In Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton, Berkley, hc, Oct. 2001

The Forgotten by Faye Kellerman William Morrow, hc. 2001

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - fall 2001 season television.

I have 3 novels here which are continuations of established and popular series. And they're all solid, strong, readable novels which progress their respective series a good increment -- leaving us with the feeling there's more to come.

One is a Vampire novel aimed at the general Historical Fiction reader, one an sf/f novel aimed at the Action reader, and one a Mystery genre novel, aimed at the Police Procedural market. But they're all identical in a subtle way that tells us something about the prevailing Group Mind of America (at least the Mind's mood before 9/11/01).

Last month, I drew your attention to another long running and thriving series of pure sf novels by C. J. Cherryh, the Foreigner Series. Those novels, too, are cut from this same thematic subject matter.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro gives us this new Saint Germain novel, A Feast In Exile. She is personally most interested in life, politics, religion, customs, dress, trade and food in (pre)historical times. Yarbro also delights in confounding the reader with rare and unusual but legitimate English words from the O.E.D. In this novel, she has used more Words than in any previous one. I lost count. Some of them are profound in magical implication.

Although Saint Germain learns from experience, he doesn't change -- he is, after all, dead. This thesis -- that the vampire, however old he/she may become, doesn't change, doesn't mature, doesn't evolve, doesn't come to massive epiphany, doesn't undergo spiritual enlightenment, doesn't grow in any way -- but lives again and again the same karmic cycle -- this thesis casts for me an aura of verisimilitude around this character.

Saint Germain has adjusted to the life of the exile, the foreigner, the person suspect and set apart, the first blamed when things go wrong. And most of the time, he brings his own doom upon himself by his noble acts of helping people.

In this novel, Saint Germain has become Sanat Ji Mani, residing in Delhi in 1398 C. E. Notice, it's not New Delhi, the city we know today -- but the original Delhi, the city destroyed during the collapse of the region's government at the invasion by the forces of Tamerlane.

Alone, without even his servant, he must once again save himself by offering to Heal, and because he is remarkably successful, he is taken by Tamerlane and force-marched north, traveling in daylight, without his Native Earth in his shoes. One foot is nailed to a bock of wood, with a metal staple driven through the flesh.

All his powers, all that he is, all the experience of his long life cannot help him. Love can and does. This is the prime lesson of Maturity we all must learn.

I researched the history of that region of Northern India (part of the region now known as Pakistan and Afghanistan actually -- on the caravan route that runs through Kabul) fairly carefully for a novel which I never got a chance to write, and so I was fascinated by Yarbro's treatment of those events and the trade routes. She swept me into the story and I simply could not put this book down.

Larell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, novels are also telling a story of maturation. Anita is in love with a Master Vampire, but also in a deeply complex love relationship with a werewolf. The turning point in Anita's life was depicted in the early novels when she fought allowing the Master Vampire to place a magical "Mark" upon her. Eventually, she became mired in a Situation where accepting the Mark was the lesser of all evils.

The "Mark" allows the Master vampire entrée into her mind, and a grip of sorts on her Magic.

Like Saint Germain, she is in this novel, Narcissus in Chains (yes, another bar with an evocative name) stripped of much of her personal power, her ability to protect herself.

She is still in her twenties, but she has learned that mere strength of will or body or mind or soul is not enough. She is maturing from Independence to Interdependence, and it is a painful process for her. In this novel, she parts from her werewolf love and accepts a werecat lover (after being infected with the werecat's bite). Because of the merging of the Vampire Marks on herself and her werewolf lover, she is now experiencing the Vampire's lust/hunger cycle, and fears she now will Change with the Full Moon. (we have to wait until the next novel to find out what happens!)

Yes, this series is fraught with a great deal of complicated fictional Magic -- but like real Magic, the key to smooth, peaceful manifestation lies in mature Relationships.

Note that one requirement that must be fulfilled before embarking on the study of Qabalah is a stable marriage. The ability to maintain Relationships through emotional storms and life crises is the signature of the Maturing Voice -- the ability to vibrate a Word in such a way that the effect will manifest smoothly.

Saint Germain is an accomplished alchemist and funds his lifestyle and trading enterprises with gold and jewels made in his athanar. His Relationships, once established, last to the death. The vampires and ghouls he has made, stay with him.

Anita Blake has only begun to strive to stabilize her Relationships. But now she must, for the Marks make it likely that if one of the others in this triumvirate die, she too will die.

Faye Kellerman's long running, best selling Peter Decker/ Rina Lazarus mysteries have traced the creation of a stable family -- filled with enough strain to tear apart any ordinary family.

Peter and Rina met when Peter was the cop assigned to investigate a murder and Rina was the only witness -- soon to become the next target (Ritual Bath).

Peter, raised Baptist, divorced with a grown daughter, vaguely knew his Jewish origins. Rina was an Orthodox Jewish widow with two sons. Passion, mutual respect and trust overcame that insurmountable barrier, and they married, and now have a daughter in second grade.

We have watched this family weather the shocks and griefs a cop brings home with him, face tragic death, and come together to solve crimes. We have watched the boys grow up and now, in The Forgotten, they are headed for college.

Faye Kellerman blends the stress of the SAT's, the angst of good children doing drugs, the shocking horror of the synagogue they've joined being plastered with Nazi symbols, and four murders that connect all these diverse factors into a novel about a maturing family that shudders, shakes and almost cracks under the barrage.

This is the most complex, deepest, and most profound of the Decker/Lazarus novels, and it focuses on Hate Crimes perpetrated by the young, the immature, the emotionally ravaged children not supported by solid family structures when very young.

This "mere" murder mystery is a commentary on the importance of family stability as the source of eventual maturation of the young. The only "magic" in these mystery novels is the occasional mention of some principle of Jewish Law. Yet this novel is about the primary source of magical strength, the strength of character one gets from being parented in a solid, stable, Relationship.

On Buffy The Vampire Slayer this season, we have seen the deterioration of Willow as a Witch. We see her ever increasing strength and power -- until she actually Raises Buffy From the Dead (forces her back from Heaven instead of (as she thought) rescuing her from Hell).

Now, we see Willow using Magick to manage her domestic disputes with her partner. And we see her being caught at it and called down for abuse of Power. All of these characters, and many others in the other sf/f TV shows, are growing and changing before our eyes. This was never allowed to happen before on prime-time series television.

And again, as with St. Germain, the issue that Matures is the issue of being stripped of all Power -- of all the hard won Independence that youth strives for, of all the personal sovereignty that symbolizes adulthood to the anguished Teen.

We spend the first 27 years of our lives striving and struggling to gain Power, to gain Sovereignty, and to define our Identity in terms of what we can do -- of what we have conquered. The Initiation of Maturity, the first (and second) Saturn Return, is one of helplessness, of being stripped of all we have achieved and standing or falling on the strength of the Relationships we have nurtured.

The Maturing Initiation is that of powerlessness. The Hanged Man Tarot Card. The origin of the strength which matures us is the 4th House of our Natal charts -- the parental axis. Reading these 4 novel-series can help you access the past lives where you did have adequate parenting -- or find the origins of problems caused by inadequate parenting. Resolution of these issues is essential to any power user.

To send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, email jl@simegen.com for instructions.


Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg,


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