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Joe Sherry (Minnesota)

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Saved [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Saved [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well done skewering of the Christian subculture, 15 Oct. 2004
A film by Brian Dannelly
The movie "Saved!" is a potentially controversial movie that just sort of slipped under the radar when it was released in theatres. At first glance, and without putting any thought into what the movie is actually saying, it would seem that "Saved!" is absolutely savaging the Christian community. The Christians in the film come off as hypocritical fools (at best) and the sympathetic characters are those with anti-Christian behaviors. But that is only the candy coating on "Saved!" The heart of the picture has to do with a portion of the Christian sub-culture which shows a public veneer of popular Christianity but has none of the heart or the message of what Christ taught. That is what "Saved!" is truly lampooning.
Mary (Jena Malone) is a senior at a very Christian high school in a very Christian town. Everything in her world is protected by the "Christian" label, from the music she listens to the Christian home decorators, and so on. The only thing that does not fit into her Christian world is her boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust), who has recently come out to her that he is gay. Since this is an affront to everything she knows and believes in, and she knows that God does not want him to be gay, Mary believes that Jesus wants her to sleep with him to de-gayify Chad. She does, and it doesn't. He is sent away to Mercy House, which is intended to get him the "help he needs". What comes out of this first encounter is that Mary becomes pregnant.
She does not know this at first, of course, so Mary slides into her life in high school where she is friends with the uber-Christian Hillary Faye (Mandy Moore). Hillary Faye is over the top Christian, but filled with bitterness which she takes out on her brother, Roland (Macaulay Culkin). Roland has been crippled since childhood and is wheelchair bound. When the Jewish Cassandra (Eva Amurri) begins school as the only Jew in the Christian high school, Hillary Faye makes it her personal mission to aggressively "save" Cassandra's soul.
Initially, Cassandra is the outcast in Mary's eyes but as her pregnancy becomes more pronounced she becomes closer to Cassandra because Cassandra is the only person who would not judge Mary. Funny how that works. As the movie continues we see the conflict between Hillary Faye, who has turned her back on Mary when Mary questions her attitude, and the outcasts (Mary, Roland, Cassandra). The movie builds, showing Hillary Faye's behavior to be increasingly anti-Christian with perhaps the film's signature scene having Hillary Faye angrily yell "I am filled with Christ's love" as she throws a Bible at Mary's back. Mary had questioned whether Hillary Faye knew what love was.
The ending of "Saved!" is somewhat over the top, but the portrayal of the Christian sub-culture is only somewhat exaggerated. Having gone to a Christian college I know that the characters in "Saved!" are distorted portrayals of actual people. The movie exaggerates the behavior, but these are very familiar situations and images and lines of dialogue to me. But, that is what this film is discussing, and perhaps exposing. The fakeness that some people can have when the cling so hard to the image of what a "good Christian" looks like that they lose sight of what it truly means to be a Christian and about the love that is central to the message of Christ.
"Saved!" is a movie that has a lot of heart and hopefully will find a home and a following on DVD. This is a smartly written and well acted movie (especially Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin), and one that is worth seeing.
-Joe Sherry
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 13, 2015 12:27 PM BST

Star Wars: Han Solo Trilogy: The Hutt Gambit Book 2 (Star Wars S.)
Star Wars: Han Solo Trilogy: The Hutt Gambit Book 2 (Star Wars S.)
by A. C. Crispin
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good for the Star Wars fan, 15 Sept. 2004
"The Hutt Gambit" is the second volume of A.C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy. At the end of "The Paradise Snare" a younger Han Solo was proud that he was accepted into the Imperial Navy and he looked forward to his career as an Imperial Soldier (potentially an officer) and a pilot. When we begin "The Hutt Gambit" we learn that Han had been dishonorably discharged from the service and he can be found in a bar with a Wookiee who has sworn a life debt to Han. The Wookiee, of course, is Chewbacca. Han acted against a superior office when he rescued Chewie from slavery, and from being killed. This brings Han full circle to become the smuggler we know in "A New Hope".
To start, Han does not want Chewbacca around. Han feels that there is no other way that he could have acted, and he was also paying off a debt that he felt he owed to a wookiee in "The Paradise Snare". But, Chewbacca insists and Han quickly gets used to having someone around to talk to. Han hires himself (and thus Chewie) out to the Hutts on the Smuggler's Moon. Specifically, Han takes employment with Jiliac and Jabba. Yes, that Jabba. This gets Han involved, on the periphery, of the interclan conflicts of the Hutts and also into battle with the Empire which is seeking to take control of some of the Hutt wealth.
"The Hutt Gambit" foreshadows Han's role in the Star Wars Trilogy, and does a good job in developing his character into the man we meet in "A New Hope". It sets up the relationships between Han and Lando, Boba Fett (this was interesting), Jabba, and Han's response to the Empire. This was a fast paced story and should be interesting to the Star Wars fan. I don't know how accessible this would be to those who are not familiar with Star Wars and it goes without saying that reading "The Paradise Snare" first is a must. This is worth reading for the Star Wars fan, but everyone else has to decide where they would like to enter the Star Wars universe.
-Joe Sherry

Passion of the Christ [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Passion of the Christ [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £5.89

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars where filmmaking cannot be separated from the story, 8 Sept. 2004
A film by Mel Gibson
"The Passion of the Christ" focuses on the last hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth (Jim Caviezel). The film begins in the Garden of Getheseme where Jesus is betrayed by Judas for thirty pieces of silver. It ends with the crucifixion at Calvary. The bulk of the film is what happens in between Getheseme and Calvary and it focuses on Jesus' suffering. This is what sets "The Passion of the Christ" apart from every other film made about the life of Jesus. Many deal with the life of Christ, and others with his teaching. "The Passion of the Christ" deals with one very short, and particular, period in his life: those last hours, the Passion. The American Heritage Dictionary includes as one of the definitions of "passion" as "The sufferings of Jesus in the period following the Last Supper and including the Crucifixion, as related in the New Testament", and that is exactly what this film is about. This is Mel Gibson showing us what Jesus went through and at times I could almost hear Gibson saying "This. He went through this for us."
While "The Passion of the Christ" is a very brutal movie, and perhaps half of the film features in some way the beating that Jesus took on the way to Calvary, it isn't the violence that has stuck with me after the movie ended. What I found particularly memorable were some of the smaller moments: the flashbacks that showed Jesus with his mother (Maia Morgenstern), Jesus teaching, Jesus with the apostles. Just as memorable, though, were the moments of betrayal: the look between Peter (Francesco De Vito) and Jesus after Peter denied Jesus for the third time, Mary (the mother) and Mary Magdalene (Monica Bellucci) together weeping at the torture Jesus is suffering, and any time we saw Satan (Rosalinda Celentano) moving through the crowd, or tempting Jesus. Lastly, Mel Gibson's handling of the Resurrection was particularly moving. It is a mix between beautiful and simply powerful moments that allow this movie to rise far above what could otherwise be called (and has been) nothing more than two hours of Jesus being beaten.
What makes reviewing this movie a challenge is that it is very difficult to separate the story from the filmmaking. As a Christian, the story is one that is very familiar to me and is also one that I personally believe in. As a reviewer, I have questions about Mel Gibson's storytelling. If I knew nothing about Jesus of Nazareth and was not familiar with the story of Easter Week, would I understand what is happening in "The Passion of the Christ"? The film lets us know that this is a man named Jesus who is being persecuted, that it is the Jewish Pharisees of Jerusalem which have brought charges against Jesus to the Romans, and they feel that he is blaspheming God. For this they wish Jesus to be put to death. What the film does not go into is why. Are these Jewish leaders just blood thirsty? Are they threatened by Jesus' teaching? Is there a serious law that he has, in fact, broken? Why are they pushing so hard for his death? "The Passion of the Christ" does not answer these questions. Someone who does not know the story of Jesus may not know why he is being brutalized to this extent and what promises Jesus' life and death, and resurrection bring.
Viewing the film from my perspective, the lack of that detail being in the film did not affect what I think of it. "The Passion of the Christ" is a bold, moving, powerful film and the fact that the subject of the film is so central to what I believe only makes it more so. I cannot speak to what a non-Christian would feel about "The Passion of the Christ" because an emotional response is so personal and subjective, and that emotional response is exactly what "The Passion of the Christ" taps in to. The combination of how skillfully Mel Gibson has crafted his film (excepting that little issue with exposition) and the emotional response that it encourages, this is arguably one of the best films of the year so far and may very well be a contender for Best Picture come Oscar Season.
The one criticism that I would like to address here is the charge, of some, of anti-Semitism. It is one that I do not understand. At the beginning of the film, when Satan is tempting Jesus, Satan mentions that carrying the full burden of sin is too much for one man. The suggestion is that Jesus (and therefore God) is choosing to do this, and that Jesus knows what is coming. In fact, Jesus says as much in the flashbacks throughout the movie. Moreover, while it is true that it is the Jews who turn Jesus over to the Romans, there were some Jews who spoke up against their leadership saying this was wrong. It was also only in the power of the Romans to condemn Jesus to be crucified and the film shows Pilate symbolically "wash his hands" of the whole affair, which was a cop-out. Pilate made the decision. It is also the Romans who are brutally whipping Jesus as punishment before he is to take up his cross. The implication here is not that the Jews nor the Romans who are specifically guilty, but rather: All are guilty. All. With Gibson's hand being the one that drives the nail into Jesus, he includes himself in the "all."
-Joe Sherry

The Coma
The Coma
by Alex Garland
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garland strikes again!, 2 Sept. 2004
This review is from: The Coma (Hardcover)
A man sits by himself on a subway and watches a group of teenagers harass a woman and try to steal her purse. She gets away from them and moves closer, sitting down next to the men. The teenagers follow and try again to grab the woman's purse. This time the man stands up, raises his arm, and says "Hey". What follows is the man being struck, knocked down, and kicked until he is unconscious. This is the starting point of Alex Garland's third novel "The Coma".
The man (he remains unnamed throughout the novel) is released fairly quickly from the hospital and returns home. He tries, cautiously, to enter back into his life, but he begins noticing strange jumps in time and a selective amnesia. Acquaintances tell them man that they don't know something because the man doesn't know it either. Things do not add up or make sense to the man and he knows he has to return to the hospital. He is still in the coma, and these episodes are his coma dreams.
"The Coma" is a short novel, with less than 200 pages. This brevity gives rise to added tension in the story as Garland is able to build the narrative in little chunks that feel like movie scenes. We feel the jumps in the narrative, these confusing dreams as the man tries to figure out what happened to him, where he is, and how to get back to life. We feel the man's confusion in not knowing what is a coma dream and what is reality. Garland's technique is very effective.
Reading "The Coma" is trying to decipher the man's memories and take the man's journey through his unconscious. In the coma dream something is real only if the man can remember it. There is no rhyme or reason to what he remembers and why he remembers what he does, but isn't that how memory? Alex Garland takes the reader on a eerie trip through a man's unconscious and coma ridden dreams, and in the process tells a very interesting (and slightly creepy) story.
Garland is the author of the novels "The Beach" and "The Tesseract" and also wrote the screenplay for the zombie horror film "28 Days Later." His fiction is something to be anticipated and thus far it has not disappointed, though it is never what is expected.
-Joe Sherry

Police Academy 2 [DVD] [1985] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Police Academy 2 [DVD] [1985] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by M and N Media US
Price: £35.73

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well, it's better than the 5th Police Academy, 26 Aug. 2004
A film by Jerry Paris
"Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment" is the first of six sequels to 1984's "Police Academy". The screwball recruits have graduated from the Academy and are now ready for their first assignment as full fledged police officers. With the city in the midst of a crime wave, the rookie officers are assigned to the city's worst police precinct. The Captain in charge of the precinct just happens to be Pete Lassard (Howard Hesseman), the brother of the Commandant of the Police Academy, Eric Lassard (George Gaynes). Pete asks his brother for a dozen good men. Eric gives him six, all of which are the screwball recruits from the first movie. Pete Lassard is given thirty days to turn his precinct around or he'll be out of a job.
In charge of the rookies is Lt Mauser (Art Metrano), an obvious replacement for the Harris (G.W. Bailey) character. Mauser sets himself up in opposition to both the rookies as well as Pete Lassard. Mauser is gunning for Lassard's job. Each of the rookies are given a partner to train with and learn the ropes. Strangely enough, each training partner seems to bungle their job as much as the rookies. Returning for this movie are Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Hightower (Bubba Smith), Tackleberry (David Graf), Hooks (Marion Ramsey), Fackler (Bruce Mahler), and Jones (Michael Winslow). This movie (and the series, really) is built around Mahoney and his confrontations with authority figures. He is the most likeable character, but a prankster. Of course Mauser takes a personal dislike to Mahoney from the start.
At this point there is nothing truly wrong with the "Police Academy" series. The movies are funny, though they are less funny with each subsequent movie. They are the typical screwball comedy, but the comedy gets more and more family friendly with each movie (the first movie had an "R" rating, this one has "PG-13", the rest have "PG") and it loses whatever edge it once had.
Nearly 20 years later (has it been so long?), is the movie still funny? Not as much as it was when I was twelve. "Police Academy 2" makes me smile at times, mostly because the situations are familiar and watching the movie is nostalgia now. The only thing about the movie that is really wrong is the character of Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait), a character that is simply annoying and not funny or interesting. Naturally he'll be back for two sequels.
The series is all downhill from here. The highpoint was the first movie, though this one isn't so bad. Still, if you are feeling nostalgic for the series, start from the beginning and quit when you are tired of it all. Most viewers should be able to make it past this one, but the series becomes very bad in a hurry. "Police Academy 2" is one of the better movies in the series, though that may not be saying very much.
-Joe Sherry

Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (Crown Journeys)
Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (Crown Journeys)
by Chuck Palahniuk
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a different sort of a travel guide, 25 Aug. 2004
This is Chuck Palahniuk's travel guide to Portland, Oregon. He gives a pronunciation/terms list so that visitors won't sound so much like outsiders when talking to local residents. Knowing the other work of Palahniuk, you can go into this book expecting this to be an unconventional travel guide. Palahniuk has a unique outlook on life and what is worth seeing and he presents that in this book.
There is no narrative in this travel book, but it is broken up into sections. In each section, Palahniuk lists (and describes) various things to see and do in Portland. One section may be on eateries, another on haunted locations, yet another on gardens. In each section, we are given off-the-beaten-path ideas of what to do and where to go in Portland. Even if you have no interest in traveling to Portland, this makes for an interesting book to read. You get a sense of the city and the city's fringe elements. It gives a different flavor than what you might expect from a Fodor's travel guide. I would recommend this book to fans of Palahniuk or anyone looking to read an interesting and different travel guide.
-Joe Sherry

From Beirut to Jerusalem: One Man's Middle Eastern Odyssey
From Beirut to Jerusalem: One Man's Middle Eastern Odyssey
by Thomas Friedman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a potential starting place for reading about the Middle East, 25 Aug. 2004
I had this book on my "to read" list for about a year, and then it sat on my shelf for five months after buying it before I finally got around to reading it. Now that I have finished the book I have to wonder what took me so long. The book is exceptional. From Beirut to Jerusalem is the story of Thomas Friedman and his analysis of the Palestine/Israel conflict. Friedman is a three time Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and this book presents and even handed and fair look at both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The book is broken up into three sections: Beirut, Jerusalem, and Washington.
Beirut is the story of the Palestinians. When Friedman was a young reporter, he was assigned a beat in Beirut (the newspaper made a point to assign a Jewish reporter to cover Beirut). Friedman does a good job showing exactly how the PLO came to power and the importance (and the flaw) of Yasir Arafat in the Palestinian movement. Despite being Jewish himself, Friedman does not present much of a bias against the Palestinians in his reporting. Friedman shows how there truly is no central authority for the Palestinians and how amazing it is the Arafat was able to unify the PLO into any sort of centralized body. The one thing that surprised me was how the Palestinians (and Beirut as a whole) was essential tribal politics. Beirut was an example of what can go right in having a disparate group of Christians, Jews, and Muslims live together in a Middle Eastern city. Beirut also ended up being a disaster of what can go wrong: everything. When push came to shove, the different groups split apart, formed militias and held fast to tribal lines. It was in Beirut that the PLO found a temporary home (at least until Israel pushed north).
Jerusalem is the story of the Jews. We all know the story of how after World War II the Jews were given a state in the Middle East and it was on their traditional homeland of Israel. This displaced the Arabs (Palestinians) that were living on the land at the time. Friedman discusses the Utopian vision that Israel is because of the religious context for the Jews. The interesting thing is that Israel was very nearly formed as a secular state for the diaspora Jews, and it was only the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews that initially held onto their religion (rather than their culture). American Jews viewed Israel truly as the Promised Land, and the Christian world saw Israel through the tinted glasses of the Old Testament. Surrounded on all sides by Arabs who do not want the Jews in Israel, the nation has never truly been at peace and it is in this section of the book that Friedman shows just how difficult peace in the region is.
Washington is the end of the book and Friedman ties several things together. There was a very clear progression from Beirut to Jerusalem as Friedman was transferred over to Jerusalem, but at the same time I felt that Friedman presented enough material that I could begin to understand the context of Jerusalem. Thomas Friedman presents his thoughts on how diplomacy could possibly work for the Israelis and the Palestinians (using the Egypt/Israel peace as a model), and also further explains just how complex the relationships are in the Middle East. We get to see the attempts of the United States to broker peace deals, and how these succeeded and failed, and in some cases, why. Friedman discusses the role the United States does play, and perhaps should play in the region (at least as it affects Israel and Palestine).
This is an absolutely fascinating book. Obviously, this should be used as a primer on the subject and if one feels interested, should lead into further research into the region, but this was a very informative and interesting book and while I was confused at times by the complexity of the situation and shocked at the enormity of the problem, I also felt that I read a valuable book on the region. I thought this was an excellent book and it should belong on any "must read" list for books on the Middle East.
-Joe Sherry

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
by University Joseph J Ellis
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars academic in tone, but essential reading for early America, 25 Aug. 2004
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Instead of trying to tell a sweeping account of the American Revolution and the early days of our Republic, Joseph Ellis took a different approach. Ellis decided to take a look at six different issues and events of the first decades of the United States. He did meticulous research on each of the issues and connected them to the larger context of American history, but the focus of each chapter was narrow enough so that we won't get lost in trying to figure out where everything fits in. Ellis attempts to take the myths and legends away from these early leaders and put them into a human context and a historical context. He succeeds at this. One thing to note, however, Ellis has a very academic style to his writing. While someone like David McCullough (also a Pulitzer Prize winner) weaves a story that flows and is fairly easy to read and move through, Ellis's academic prose makes for slower reading for comprehension.
The first chapter deals with the Hamilton-Burr duel. All I knew about this was from the "Got Milk" commercial several years ago. Ellis details the known facts about what happened and does some detective work to put together as best as possible what truly happened. This was a very interesting chapter to start the book with and set the stage for how Ellis would construct his chapters. He takes conflicting accounts (in this case, from the supporters of Burr and Hamilton) and weaves them together taking all the evidence in account and tries to make the story fit.
Other chapters deal with The Friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, George Washington's Farewell Address, the rumor of a dinner which settled where the new Capitol would located, the Silence on the issue of slavery, and the collaborations of the Founders. This is a very interesting period in American History, and a vitally important one.
I learned quite a bit about different parts of early American history and this book will serve as a jumping off point to get into other historical works so that I'll have a more expanded background for some of the subjects that will surely come up.
-Joe Sherry

The Fortress of Solitude
The Fortress of Solitude
by Jonathan Lethem
Edition: Paperback

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lethem is always worth the time investment, 25 Aug. 2004
"The Fortress of Solitude" is a difficult book for me to review. The story being told by Lethem is so broad, and at the same time so simple that capturing it in a couple of short paragraphs seems like folly to attempt. Yet, this novel is so good that an attempt is warranted. "The Fortress of Solitude" is one of the few novels that I would honestly compare to Don DeLillo's "Underworld", and Lethem pulls this off in theme, setting, and in the simple power that is conveyed by the story.
Most of the novel takes place in 1970's Brooklyn and the story centers on Dylan Ebdus, a young white boy living in a neighborhood of Brooklyn that is predominately black. Later, when he is in high school it is said that he is one of only three white boys in the entire school. Yes, race plays a factor in this book. Dylan is a smaller kid, weak, but he makes a friend in Mingus Rude, a black kid who is new to the neighborhood. Unlike Dylan, Mingus immediately fits in and finds a place in the neighborhood. Nobody messes with him. Mingus belongs. Dylan and Mingus have one friendship when they are alone and at each other's homes, and another type when they are on the street. This works for Dylan. He takes what he can get and he knows that his friendship is the true friendship.
Lethem gives us the rhythm of the street and the race relations in that Brooklyn neighborhood. It is painful for Dylan, but he is able to get by. What comes next almost seems like a gimmick, but Lethem did not push it down our throat so it felt believable. Mingus and Dylan are big into comic books and think and talk about superheroes and the powers they have. Dylan meets a man who was trying unsuccessfully to fly. At first this seems like an event unconnected to anything else, but it turns out to have a deeper connection to the story. Sometime later Dylan and Mingus are part of their own two person tagging crew (graffiti) and they tag a homless man who they think is already dead. At some point later he turns out to be alive and Dylan acquires a ring from the man. This ring has "super" powers. Dylan and Mingus attempt to be superheroes, but nothing goes quite according to plan and the ring is put to the side for months and years at a time.
As much as the title alludes to Superman comics and that there is a strong comic book theme running through the novel, not to mention the ring, this is a very down to earth novel that just feels real. Lethem has fashioned the world of the Brooklyn neighborhood and of Dylan's childhood absolutely perfectly. Lethem is a talented author who just keeps getting better and better.
-Joe Sherry

Against the Terrans: the Forbidden Tower (Daw Science Fiction Darkover S.)
Against the Terrans: the Forbidden Tower (Daw Science Fiction Darkover S.)
by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars at its heart, a romance, 25 Aug. 2004
"The Forbidden Tower" is another of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels. This one is set shortly after the events of "The Spell Sword", where Callista had been rescued and the Cat People defeated. Damon Ridenow is engaged to marry Ellemir, a daughter of the Alton family. Ellemir's twin sister, Callista, intends on marrying the Terran, Andrew Carr. This seems simple enough. Two couples want to get married. But, this is the basis for the entire novel and the way this plays out is rather interesting. The trouble is in who these people are.
The marriage of Damon and Ellemir is not the problem. The problem is Andrew and Callista. You see, Callista is a Keeper of Arilinn Tower. What this means is that for a woman to become a Keeper there are years of training and conditioning of her senses and her psychic powers and they are honed so tightly that physical contact is almost unbearable, let alone emotional attachment. Callista may love Andrew very much, but years of conditioning has made her unable to physically respond to him, and should she respond there is the threat of Callista's powers attacking Andrew without her control (part of the conditioning). They marry, but understand that they cannot consummate the marriage until Callista's conditioning can be undone, and this may take months and years.
Meanwhile they are all living at the Alton estate (as would be customary on Darkover). Andrew is adapting to life on Darkover and is discovering his role in the household and with his new family in friends. But Andrew still has Terran (think Earth) ways of thinking, and this causes more problems, especially since Damon, Ellemir and Callista are all telepaths, as is Andrew. The closeness of Darkovan and telepathic relationships is frightening and different to Andrew and he recoils at times causing conflict and confusion.
At its heart this novel is a romance, in part between Andrew and Callista, but also between all four of the major characters. Exactly how that works out would spoil the story, but it is something that is presented as fairly natural on Darkover (though if we judged it by our own standards it would be unusual at best and perhaps deviant at worst). There is also a major conflict within Darkover's culture because of how the four are viewing their psychic powers and what proper use of them is (there is tradition and laws on Darkover regarding use of "laran", the psi power.). This puts the four into direct opposition with the ruling powers of Darkover.
While the relationship between Andrew and Callista is at the heart of the novel, the strongest point was (in my view) was the conflict between the four and the rulers of Darkover. This was the most interesting part and one that I wish was focused on much more than the attempts for Callista and Andrew to finally consummate their marriage. This was a good Darkover novel, but not one of the best. Perhaps if the focus would have been on the "Forbidden Tower" aspect of the novel it would have been the best of the Darkover novels.
-Joe Sherry

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