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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Review: The Compleat Traveller in Black

The Compleat Traveller in Black
The Compleat Traveller in Black by John Brunner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Somehow I expected a bit more of this one. It was enjoyable, yes, and the setting was something not seen too often (King later used a similar setting for his Dark Tower series), but all in all it was a bit too flowery in its’ prose and too skimpy on actual plot.
Well, technically it is a collection of short stories, although the way they are presented makes them appear more like an actual novel. There is a sense of continuity between different stories. One element from one story will for sure appear in the next, and stories harken back to earlier ones without explanation. Also there is a continuing exploration of the main character’s quest.
So, more of a novel then.
It follows the travels of the Traveller in Black who has many names but only one nature, as he travels through a surreal world that seems to be neither here nor there and definitely not really our past or future, trying to bring order to chaos.
His gimmick is that he grants wishes and will do so in the most unexpected and ironic ways possible, sometimes to his own deep regret
It might be interesting to note that this book, similar to The Lord of the Rings, is about the loss of magic. The continuing quest of the Traveller is one that causes the magic to go away and slowly transforms the brutish world he inhabits into something rational, but ultimately more survivable. Where the early stories are very much in the vein of Sword and Sorcery, with gory human sacrifices and questionable morals, later stories more and more evoke a more civilized society.

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