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on 16 February 2002
The Chronicles of Morgaine, as originally published in the UK, is the best series I have ever read. Period. Cherryh's writing is captivating, and the writing style is unique in that we are never allowed "into the head" of one of the main characters. This adds incredible power to the writing, and constantly serves to keep the reader totally in tune with the other's viewpoint.
The story itself spans worlds. Literally. Many fantasy/sci-fi authors seem scared to break the mold of their original stories, and this ends up crushing them. In a series of four books, Cherryh takes her characters through four unique yet interwoven worlds. The challenges that her characters face on each of these worlds is never the standard fantasy fare of "boy/girl comes from nowhere and saves the world", but deals with friendship, hardship, family, politics, alliance, enmity, trust and betrayal.
The craft, imagination and skill behind this series is second to none. The only thing that disappoints me about this series is that not enough people have experienced it and that it's not outsold Lord of the Rings - so far...
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on 12 June 2000
I first read Fires of Azeroth at age 11(ish). It was the first adult fantasy I had read, and I was captivated. The characters were full boodied, hot blooded, uncompromising, real life people. The situations they were in, their reactions, their reasons and their believability (?) were even more real. I went on to read Well of Shiuan and Gate of Ivrel as soon as I could find them. These three are in this edition, with Exiles gate a separate work, 4th and last in line. Cherryh weaves a spellbinding story, entwining love and hate, honour and regret, necessity and compassion. Her heros are real people acting out real lives in situations that make them heros. No muscle bound Conans with bodymounds and crimson gore here, just gritty warriors who fight because they have no choice and people who believe in the things they hold dear. Nhi Vanya, the young outcast and Morgaine, the feared and reveared Witch of legend come together in the first book. Their characters and relationship develop brilliantly throughout the works, so much so that you end up knowing how they will react, what they will be thinking, where they will go... You end up within them, and this, to me, is the mark of GREAT writing. I really cannot recommend this book enough!

An alltime musthave series. GO BUY IT!


people have said this is the cream of Cherryh's work. They could be right! however, do NOT overlook another series that she has co-written - Merovingen Nights..... OH MY! simply brilliant.
Angel With the Sword (Merovingen Nights #2) (Daw science fiction) <yeah it says #2, but this it the opening novel, by Cherryh alone. the rest just get better and better.
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on 16 December 2007
Thousands of medieval worlds are linked together by gates which allow (for those who know how to use them) instantaneous transport between them. A team of experts is dispatched to close them. As we join the story Morgaine is the only one of the team still alive. With the responsiblity hers alone she will sacrifice anything to finish the mission.
She tricks Vanye, a young disgraced warrior into helping her, using his honour against him.
Gradually as the bond between them deepens her decisions become more difficult.
As with all great stories the plot is simple. However what raises these books way above the average is the believability and depth of the characters. If you want real drama set in a fantasy landscape then these books are for you.
I have read more than two thousand science fiction/fantasy books and these are in my top five.
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The Gates - portals constructed by a long-extinct alien race that allow navigation across time and space. A deadly threat to the people who use them, the worlds they lead to and, ultimately, the very fabric of the spacetime continuum.

Morgaine - beautiful, otherworldly. She travels through the gates, closing them behind her in a vain, endless and fatal bid to save civilisation.

Vanye - disgraced warrior. His only hope of honour and salvation is to betray his kin and protect his liege-lady.

The Chronicles of Morgaine is the oldest, tattiest, most worn out and dogeared book on my shelf. I own a 1986 edition - bought new - and it has survived about six house moves, numerous car-boot-sale culls and a protracted period in a cardboard box in a loft sometime during the 1990's. It is the most re-read of any of my books and, over the last 25 or so years it has done faithful service as a sort of literary comfort-food, a paperback rice pudding, if you will. Now that all of my reading is done on a Kindle, this is the book that reminds me what reading a paper book feels and smells like. When I have replaced all of my paper books with electronic ones, THIS is the one, held together with strata of yellowing sellotape, that will remain on the shelf, defiantly paperiferous.

I really love the story. It is a collection of three books, "Gate of Ivrel", Well of Shiuan" and "Fires of Azeroth". From the title and cover art you might be forgiven for thinking this is a bit of a sword & sandal, Conan & Sonja saga - nothing like it! It owes far more to Arthurian legend (and with a fair dose of Lord of the Rings) than anything and there isn't a bulging loincloth to be found.

What more to be said? the plot is long and linear, based as it is around Morgaine's ill-fated quest and Vanye's struggle with his oath of fealty to her. There are battles and betrayals, pursuits and travails aplenty, and none of it matters. Once you "get it" you realise that the *real* story is about the developing relationship, uneasy and unwilling at first, between the two protagonists; the fey, unpredictable and beautiful Morgaine and her faithful warrior servant, young, persistent and deeply flawed Vanye. To say much more would spoil it, but the development of these two characters and how they interact (which culminates in a sequel "Exile's Gate" is what makes this story what it is. Until you realise that you may find that it drags terribly because there's a lot more "jaw jaw" than "war war". After a couple of abortive first attempts, I fell in love with the story and (as a greying 40 something I blush to admit...) with Morgaine.

I only wish Cherryh had written a few more of these, but she never did. While Chronicles can be bought new, Exile is out of print and can only be found second-hand.
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VINE VOICEon 8 January 2008
The first trilogy written by CJ Cherryh sets such a high standard that even though (IMO) she's written nothing as good since, that still means she's written some other great SF & Fantasy books.

These chronicles are set across a number of different planets & times, accessed by a series of `gates'.

The worlds are mostly dying or decaying & there is a strong `autumnal' tone to all the books, very much offset by the relentless `can do' attitude of the two main characters, Nhi Vanya, the outcast warrior and the witch Morgaine, nominally his `owner'.

We get comparatively few words from either in the book, with Cherryh preferring to let her ideas & descriptions `talk' for her.

Interestingly, although the main character is female all the books show most of the actions thru the eyes of the male warrior.

It's a great, fast read but such is the quality of ideas & writing, it's a book you can (& will) return to many times.

Difficult to give examples of similar books to compare Morgaine with as the chronicles are really quite unique.

If you like SF, Fantasy or simply beautifully crafted character led story telling, buy this trilogy.

(if you do & like it, try "Down Below Station" for a good example of Cherryh's SF)
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on 12 March 2014
I've read and re-read this series many times. It's in my top ten best books of all time. Cherryh is up there with Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, Norton, Niven and many others of the best science fiction writers the world has seen.

This is a sci-fi story that feels like it's fantasy because the protagonists journey through worlds via "Gates", worlds that are feudal and therefore see any technology that Morgaine has as magic. The story is told through the eyes of her vassal Nhi Vanye, a dishonored warrior.

The description of the worlds and cultures are detailed and believable. I know that these worlds exist out there somewhere, some-when.

The book is sublime.
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on 8 July 2013
Brilliant series, great characterisation and story, by far this author's best work to date, in my opinion. I have read hundreds of these types of novels and this series clearly stands out. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes science fantasy.
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on 27 February 2011
I originally read this trilogy sometime in the 1990's and was very much impressed with the read; that continues to be my consensus and I wish CJ Cherryh had continued with the characters and premise for the volumes.
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on 2 February 2010
There are at least four Morgaine books, I read the first three in one volume, and a fourth from the library. I think this book is the first three, which is good. All four would be ideal, but a bit bulky.
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on 11 October 2014
Old copies 'died' from over use, had to get a new copy.
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