The Weavers Of Saramyr
(Gollancz, £10.99, 375 pages, trade paperback, also available in hardback
priced £17.99, published 29 May 2003. Mass market paperback: Gollancz,
£6.99, 440 pages, published 8 April 2004.)
Chris Wooding would appear to be a rising star of fantasy. Author of
several young adult novels--one award-winning--he plays The Weavers Of
in a touring band, is only 25, and doubtless is suave and good looking
also. Probably he is rich, of above average height, and has no enemies
of note. (I'm extrapolating here from the adulatory press material.)
But I digress. The matter in hand is the first volume of his new adult
work, the Braided Path trilogy, this volume being
In the intrigue-laden world of Saramyr, the creepy Weavers joust with
one another to control events, their most important task being to ensure
the destruction of all human beings with magical powers--the Aberrant.
Anybody showing Aberrancy must be killed. Unfortunately, the eight year
old daughter of the current Empress has shown special powers, and when
the Empress declares that her daughter must be considered her heir a
chain of events is set in motion that embroils many people. Meanwhile,
the land of Saramyr is suffering from a malaise that perverts the forms
and lives of animals, creating repulsive monsters. Worse, there are
This is an intensely imagined world with many original and delightful
aspects: the demonic shin-shin, the vile Weavers, the monsters, even
the weather. Many of the main characters are interesting and have potential
for development. The only problem lies with the writing. Too many pages
read like descriptions cut-and-pasted from the author's notebooks, and
there are far too many words ending in -ly. To take examples chosen
at random: 'permanently tired and weary,' 'she unconsciously changed
herself slightly,' and 'disappeared entirely.' Bleurgh.
But at least this author has avoided the usual fantasy cliches; with
this new work he shows considerable promise. The stodge needs to be
reduced, though--and I think I can hear somebody saying, "Show not tell."
Review by Stephen Palmer.