10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Epic "fat" fantasy with depth and passion,
This review is from: Black Jade: Book Three of the Ea Cycle (Paperback)No other science fiction/fantasy writer reaches the heights of Zindell; he is, at times--and often--sublime, poetic, visionary, passionate, contemplative, ecstatic, humorous, sorrowful, offering the entire gamut of human experience (which is rare, as most fiction writers stay firmly entrenched within the realm of personal emotion and thought...Zindell offers us the trans-personal).
A common viewpoint among his long-time fans is that his science fiction work (beginning with Neverness and continuing with the Requiem for Homo Sapiens trilogy) was better than the three-book and counting Ea Cycle (The Lightstone, Lord of Lies, and the current book). I tend to agree, but it may be because it was our first journey with Zindell and most of us were simply blown away. Perhaps now we expect too much of him. But it may also be something else: there is a stronger sense of immediacy within his earlier works, as if the author himself was going through the same process of transformation that his protagonists were, he sharing his own journey, yet in the mythic-symbolic form of Story. Perhaps in the Ea Cycle, he is telling a tale from a mountain cave, a journey that he once took, yet now sits comfortably within his Sacred Space, ushering forth and weaving tales of power and passion from the Primal Void, yet at the same time as he embraces and loves his characters and their world, he is also somewhat detached, as if he is more at peace with the currents of the River, yet willing to embrace them as appearances of himSelf.
I read through Black Jade quickly. Zindell is at his best when he is explicating his exquisitely archetypal cosmology or utilizing his deep understanding of psycho-spirituality to guide his characters through their inner and outer trials. Occasionally I did get the sense that he was filling pages, drawing scenes out too long, perhaps mimicking the new tradition of fat fantasies; yet I do not think that he will succumb to "Jordanitis"--his stories will always take us deeper, even if he fills them out with what the market asks of him.
There are equal or better stylists and humanists out there, and writers whose pure fantastical ideas are on par with Zindell's, yet in terms of his depth of awareness and understanding of reality, there is no other sci-fi/fantasy writer out there that compares. Zindell is pointing to That which is beyond what we know, yet also ever-present within everything, that gives life to our very breath and blood and minds and hearts. In other words, what is perhaps most poignant about Zindell's work is the author himself, and the sensitivity of being that infuses every word.
I cannot recommend him enough.