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June 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure by Storm Constantine
Tor HCVR: ISBN 0765303469 PubDate: May 2003
Review by Iain Emsley

544 pages List price $27.95
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The fashion in which Storm Constantine was picked up for publication is one that has gone down in publishing history. Having gone into the Andromeda bookshop, she got a friend to ask the owner how one got published. A sales rep was in the store and asked to see the manuscript and thus the Wraeththu came into print. Decadent and Gothic, the trilogy spawned a fierce following. Seventeen years later, Storm has come back to the Wraeththu and, for once, it is a welcome to return to an authorís initial creation.

Set between the second and third books of the original trilogy, The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure brings the reader up to date as the Wraeththu begin to bind themselves together in a shattered land. Pellaz is gradually restored to his full power whilst the archmage Thiede ties the Wraeththu together, bringing them to their own ascendancy. Lileem comes into her own and discovers that she is quite something else, something potentially dangerous and wonderful. At the Festival of the Mountain Walker, the strands are brought together in a wild night that marks a zenith for the participants.

For so many writers, the return to a world and characters tends to herald a novel which is comfortably familiar yet lacks spark or vitality. Storm has come back to her own with a gloriously gothic, passionate and romantic novel, one which has a need to tell its story. The richly thought out characters and landscapes at times dazzle the reader with their complexity and vitality, spread out over many levels and shades. As Storm revisits the world, she also expands the gender issues that caught so many readers. Within the Wraeththu is a hidden society that has crossed the gender boundaries, developing the society and allowing the world to take on a metaphysical level. Although obviously taken with the idea of transgender issues, she also manages to deal with acceptance within the various strata. The change in language, the acceptance that the dialogue will be different is developed throughout the book, as neutral pronouns are used and that different terms are used within the Wraeththu society.

The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure is a joy to read and is Stormís finest and most confident novel for some time. It reaffirms her place as an author of immense talent and originality and is a welcome return to her original world. This novel is a must to any body interested in highly imaginative Fantasy.

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