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From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: (whorl) First impressions
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 12:56:02 +0100


What a good book! There are so many arresting moments, both hinted-at
revelations and surprises pulled out of nowhere. Even "little" things like
Mora's personal problems are striking. I don't know why - the unexpectedness,
or the fact that Horn takes time to help her while there is so much else
going on, or just the fact that it's done so well. This is the subject matter
of mainstream literature, yet it's hard to imagine any mainstream novel making
it so readable or so interesting. And how many other great works of literature
have lines about being a girl trapped in the body of a blood-drinking reptile?
... actually, that whole aspect of it is very moving. It reminds me, now that
I come to think of it, of what must be about the most spine-chilling thing
I've ever read - the alzabo in TBOTNS. This is different, though, in being
much more hopeful. The inhumi are still living spirits, rather than horrific
ghostly echoes, and the tone of the book suggests that they might be redeemed.
I can't imagine how, though - aren't they always going to be blood-drinking

Bitten by the evidence:

Mr Clute's idea of Horn as inhumu doesn't seem right to me - as well as
the evidence adduced against it so far, the scene where Horn makes a big
thing of telling Hide about inhumi not eating happens immediately after
Horn has actually *shown Hide his own teeth*!

In hindsight:

Horn's description of Silk as the *phantom* who has eluded him through three
whorls now seems particularly apt :-)


I'm glad Babbie got home all right, and that Mucor is sending him to
Horn again, but how did he do it? I know he can row (a somewhat startling
idea itself), but sailing back across the ocean is another matter. Maybe
he and Seawrack could do it between them, but why would she leave Pajarocu?
We'll probably get a throwaway line about him signing on with Wijzer...

Cruelty to Bears:

It's particularly noticeable how many parts of the story Horn starts
to tell us about but doesn't finish.  Do we *ever* see him come back
from one of his visits to Green, for instance? Or from Urth?
At one point Horn mentions that he has written almost nothing about
the rest of the adventures on the spirit trip to Green, which is what
he was supposed to have been writing about - aaagh! That Wolfe, teasing
the poor reader so!

The Secret:

The speculations here about the secret of the inhumi being to do with
willing sacrifice are very interesting, but don't address Horn's assertion
that it could be used to reduce the inhumi to mindless animals, not better
but not worse than crocodiles. And how does that fit in with the general
theme that we ought to be *nice* to them? 

I did feel very clever to have guessed that Sinew was bitten by Krait's
mother. I need all the ego boost I can get, too, after reading the abstracts
for the symposium on Saturday. Anyone else from here going to be there?

Spectacled Bear.

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