Maintained by Jerry Cullingford (Click here to mail)
I found this one (along with a mint-condition copy of "Children of the Night" to replace my copy, which looks as though the cat ate it) at a charity stall this weekend, so I thought I'd do a review to encourage y'all. :) -- M.
Although I admit to not being familiar with the _Sword of Knowledge_ background, I found it hard to spot any obvious Cherryh influence within this book. Admittedly, within any collaboration, it should be hard -- preferably impossible -- to spot the joins, but this novel appears to have none. It reads as pure Lackey, rather than the Lackey/other author mix as found in (for example) the SERRAted edge books; it's possible that this is because it was written earlier in her career (1989) so that she was less pushed for time than in some of her later works.
It is set (according to the blurb) 500 years after _Wizard Spawn_, which was #2 in the _Sword of Knowledge_ series. The Order of the Sword of Knowledge, a quasi-religious order dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge of all kinds, has found a safe haven in an isolated valley between two kingdoms. Their peaceful existence is shattered by an invading tribe of horse nomads -- more Mongol than Shin'a'in -- who have been forced to leave their lands because of severe drought and deteriorating relationships with neighbouring tribes.
Felaras, Master of the Order, and Jegrai, clan chief of the nomads, are both facing leadership challenges from within. Both need to come to a respectable compromise; Felaras knows that her Order cannot leave without losing many of its members on the journey, and Jegrai knows that his tribe cannot advance further without meeting the forces of one of the neighbouring kingdoms, and that to retreat would mean death at the hands of the tribe which has already killed many of his people.
Felaras is a realistically-described leader, worried about her people and her choice of successor. Jegrai is also well-described, but suffers because some of the more important nomads are less well-drawn; we have a good idea of the motivations of those around Felaras, but only the five closest to Jegrai are described in any depth. When Felaras is challenged, we have a good idea of the person who will be behind it, and their reasons for doing so, whereas the challenge to Jegrai comes almost out of thin air. Both major characters do, however, have some interesting dilemmas to solve.
I would recommend this book, especially to those who are worried about the quality of other Lackey collaborations (although, as I noted above, it does not read as though it were a collaboration at all). Felaras reminds me of an aging Diana Tregarde, with a little more help than Di usually has.
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%T _When the Bough Breaks_ %A Mercedes Lackey and C.J.Cherryh %D 1989 %I ? publisher ? %P ? pages ? %G ISBN ???