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on 21 May 2005
Originally two separate books, Greg Bear's 'Infinity Concerto' and 'The Serpent Mage' are brought together in one volume renamed 'Songs of Earth and Power'.
The story revolves around Michael Perrin, a young poet who is searching for meaning in his life but with no direction. When he befriends Arno Waltiri an elderly neighbour who is also artistic (a composer), it is a meeting of minds and Michaels life changes forever. Unfortunately Arno dies soon after meeting Michael but leaves him a key to an old abandoned house. What Michael is about to discover is that this house is a gateway to another realm, the Realm of the Sidhe, a realm that is both compelling and dangerous, a realm that is difficult to escape from.
Greg Bear's land of elves is not the pretty, enchanted place of so many fantasy novels but is an oppressive, menacing land of cruelty and fear, ruled by the unfeeling Sidhe. His brilliantly descriptive narrative draws the reader in until you feel part of this world. It is a difficult book to put down. Songs of Earth and Power isn't an easy or comfortable read but it is one that is well worth the effort. It's definitely one of the better novels in the fantasy genre and it's a great addition to the bookshelf of any lover of fantasy.
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on 8 November 2000
This book captures your imagination from start to finish. I am a fantasy fan, and this book didn't disapoint, combining make-believe elements in such a powerful way that it seems more believable than any other fantasy book I've ever read! Both books that make up this one publication are great, but their contrasting styles make this the best book I've ever read.
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on 14 October 2010
Surprisingly this is a book that I bought based on an amazon list of books on magic and faerie. It is a major find and will no doubt be read and re-read as the whim takes me.

It is essentially 2 books in one, the tale of Michael Perrin a young lad of 17 who meets Arno the composer and follows his invitation to visit a different realm. At times it is hard work and the differences between the Sidhe, who are after all a different race, and the humans within the realm do little to endear one to the hero Michael, and it is to begin with quite heard work to work one's way into the tale.

It is as always with Greg Bear, written well and is detailed, nuanced and thought provoking. The nature of energy, magic and the worst traits of both humanity and the Sidhe are explored, as well as the prejudice and the concepts of gods, creation, religion, destruction and politics all are to be found within the pages.

I read this while away on holiday in Ireland, land of Tir na Og, and while the book is set in America, it resonates just as well for a reader from England.

The first book follows the journey of Michael through the Realm and towards his destiny which is not at all evident to him in the beginning. It is a book to begin with about survival in an alien world, as an alien.

The second book is Michael as a man and his journey to discover the depths of his self and his potential and the path to harmony with the energy of the world around him.

Tradition is not always good, innovation is always to be welcomed and magic is always reflective of the person using the magic.

Music is also a strong theme within this book and while one does not need detailed musical knowledge, an appreciation of some classical musical composers could be helpful.

A 5 star recommendation from me. A rare thing for a book. This book will remain in my mind for many years to come.

It is that good.
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I don't normally read fantasy, being more of a sci-fi fan myself. I have read other books by greg bear, whom i know to be a good writter, so in this case i made an exception. I was very glad that i did as i enjoyed this book a great deal. This is good escapist fiction and in places poetic and surreal as well. Without giving to much of the plot away, it involves majic, elves and the lockness monster, but in a very belevable way. Not at all like lord of the rings, it reads more like a sci-fi book (not suprising considering the author. This is a fairly long book as well, as it contains to medium sized books that were previously published earlier (that being the Infinity Concerto spell, and The Serpent Mage). I origonally bought the first one on its own second hand, and had to buy them together to get the second, as they r no longer published seperately. The second book is very different in character to the first and makes for a nice conclussion.
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on 26 May 1999
A wonderful story of a boy transported to the realm where the Sidhe (the much feted faerie folk of Ireland) rule. Magic is created in the forms of Songs of power - which may take the form of any of the great arts - music , dance , poetry. The story tells of the boy Michael's rise to Magehood through his talent for poetry , leading to the destruction of the realm and the return of the Sidhe to earth . I have lived in Ireland all my life and heard stories of the good folk or the sidhe all my life . This folk takes these wonderful legends and weaves them into a brilliant story . Highly recommended
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on 13 August 2001
...is not the correct way to describe Michael Perrin! I don't know what is, though. This is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read - one that i know I'll be reading over again one day.
Greg Bear's fantasy world within Songs of Earth and Power equals some of Arthur C. Clarke's, however the storyline, especially concerning any romantic feelings or encounters, almost made me laugh at times, as it was so infantile and naive. Importantly though, it didn't ruin the book - it merely gave it a charming child-like quality which is hard to explain.
At first I was worried it would take a classical music fanatic to read through the whole epic, but this fear soon vanished. Fantastic read. F A N T A S T I C !
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on 17 June 2015
I originally had these books as two separate volumes. I have since re-bought this combined volume twice and again as an e-book. I've lost count of the number of times I've re-read it. Bear's imagination is really that good. I won't spoil the plot (see other reviews for that) but I recommend reading them in the proper order otherwise "The Serpent Mage" will lose much of its meaning.
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on 23 April 2014
This book was advertised as being in good condition, but when it arrived it was badly foxed, bent in the middle and yellowed throughout.

As to the plot and quality of writing, it did keep me reading to the end. However the same story could have been told more effectively in half the number of pages and would have been a better book for it.
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