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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Northlight by Deborah J. Ross

                                                         … ‘another Kardith’s leap?’

I quite enjoyed Northlight. Enough that I bought Ross‘s other novel Jaydium in order to explore her writing further …and of course I am a Darkover fan.
For some reason I was left with the feeling that the characters in Northlight had more going for them than what was in print. (Very post modern)
Don’t get me wrong. The characters are forceful, they are fully present, and I liked them, yet somehow their potentials are not as realized as I felt they could be. Or maybe it’s the novel’s ending that is not as fully realized for me.
Ross‘s evocative use of language is excellent. Having just come through a snow filled, minus temperatures winter, I particularly appreciated her sketch of the landscape where,
‘the smaller tributary snak[ed] in from the northwest. Where it dumped into the Serenity, colder than winter snot.’
A post apocalyptical story (I’m seeing early Andre Norton-ish here) situated on the world of Harth, with some interesting twists centering around the interactions of Kardith, a Starhall ranger, missing ranger Aviyya, and Aviyya’s brother Terricel, a scholar. Set in a time when the society is struggling with traditions and rules whose origins and meanings have been lost down through the ages. A time when Guardians and Rangers and religious politics intertwine and collide.
The central characters journeys take them across Harth, (in unexpected ways) from Starhall to the Northlight,
‘…two ends of the road, two poles with all of Harth strung out between them,
’with a mountain range of angst, misunderstanding and danger in between.

At one point, when the travelers emerged from the volcanic cone, I was reminded of an experience in the Azores, standing in the volcanic vent, Algar do Carvo, on Teceira Island, looking up towards the sky, outlined by slabs of rock, mosses and ferns.

I wondered if the travelers’ experience of emergence paralleled my own.

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