When a hero sets off to find his princess, he expects a fairytale ending - but Tepper twists the archetypes to make this fabulous fable all her own.
Atop a twisting, canyon-climbing road, a witch lurks in a fortress built strong enough to keep out dragons and ogres. In an enchanted village, a young orphan is maturing into a beautiful woman. A young man seeks adventure in the big city after running away from his family and their small farm. Now a strange and terrible prophecy will set off a chain of events that will bring these three together, in a tale of heroism, romance and an age-old battle.
But this is not the fantasy world you expect. The Place of Power is manned by strange, robotic creatures who leak radiation. The Archetypal Village knows what is expected of it, as do the inhabitants. In the city, gangs battle with guns and bombs. And the prophecy may lead to death for all.
Prequel to the widely-acclaimed THE WATERS RISING, this is a powerful and engrossing fantasy tale from Sheri S. Tepper.
Tepper ( Sideshow ) cleverly adopts elements of both fantasy and science fiction in this portrait of a world on the verge of chaos. Looking to space for a better world, most of Artemesia's inhabitants have deserted their land for the stars, leaving behind crumbling gang-infested cities, fortified suburbs protected by dwindling technology and a half-wild, half-rural land where renascent mythical beasts and fairy tale ``archetypes'' now live. There Abasio, a farmboy who is being pursued by vengeful gang members, meets Orphan, who is herself being pursued by the minions of Witch. Witch is convinced that in accordance with a delphic prophecy, Orphan can provide the ``guidance system'' for her space shuttle and thus allow her to settle the moon. Abasio, Orphan and their few allies are called to fulfill their destiny and defend the battered Earth from Witch's mad scheme for world domination. If the fantasy and SF elements don't always merge seamlessly, the setting is well-realized and Witch's psychosis is lurid and frightening. Tepper's prose is colorful and, while occasionally strident, tempered with wry wit and astute observations about human nature.