Hithertofore, whenever I have blogged about fantasy novels I’ve been all, If you don’t like fantasy you won’t like this and bla bla bla, but what I meant is, Dude, what is wrong with you and read this book. However, I don’t know if The Quest qualifies as fantasy or not, but if mages and astral planes and words of power and shit aren’t your thing, this will not be the book that turns you. Because they totally kind of are my thing, and even I was rolling my eyes by the last 200-pages.
The Quest – Wilbur Smith
Which doesn’t mean it sucked – it was totally competent and fine, and well in keeping with the usual predictable coincidences and bad humor that make up this sort of novel. And all the sex. Which, actually, thanks, The Quest, because I’ve been meaning to address this issue for a while now: some time back, the crazy-awesome J Scott Savage (a name that’s so fantasy-author-perfect it has to be made up) hosted a fantasy-March-Madness, of a sorts, and one woman wrote in the comments that she’d been surprised and offended by the amount of sex in George R R Martin’s Ice and Fire series. I kind of figure that sex in fantasy novels is par for the course, but I totally get where she’s coming from. I’m often hesitant to give all my kudos to a novel that I totally lurved but that had buckets of sex and violence without adding a sort of Cautionary Whale to it. Because some people don’t want to put that shit into their brains, you know? And I hear you.
So, disclaimer: The Quest has loads and loads of sex in it. In fact, the main plot line kind of hinges on it *TOTAL SPOILERS* because there’s this eunuch-mage, see, and he goes on this quest to save Egypt from the clutches of an evil sorceress, because the Nile is drying up, etc. etc, and in a bizarre bit of sorcery he is grown a new schlong, and then uses his brand-new man-bits to defeat the sorceress by DOINKING HER TO DEATH! It sounds like the script summary for some sort of He-Man porn, no? Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said, By the power of Greyskull! Yes? Not at all? I should flush the crack? *END SPOILERS*
And there’s so much more to the novel than than all the sex. It’s friggin 700+ pages, after all. The mage meets up with the reincarnated soul of his former love (h’whoops. That part involves sex too) and there’s all kinds of questing and marching and camping and young, nubile tribal maidens joining the quest (again, the sex! Hrack!). Really, the only part that lacks sex completely is when the mage is getting his magic on, and he conjugates the Words of Power! CONJUGATES THEM! Which, if grammar turns you on…
All in all, fine and readable and kind of terrible but in that way you sort of wont mind if sorceresses and plagues are your schtick.
Four caterpillars, plus three Cautionary Whales for sex and two for violence.