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The Last Crusade,
This review is from: Ivory: A Legend of Past and Future (Paperback)
I wasn't prepared to be as enthralled by `Ivory', as I was by`Kirinyaga: A Fable of Utopia'. I certainly hoped it would prove to be a novel of similar quality, but didn't believe the greatness of Mike Resnick's most renowned debut novel could be repeated. But `Ivory' is undoubtedly as captivating, inspiring and poignant, and is in all respects equal to that great work.
The format for this novel is similar to that of `Kirinyaga' i.e. presenting a larger theme comprised of interlinking short stories. In the case of `Ivory', which spans millennia and introduces characters hundreds of years apart, all of whom participate in the journey of a remarkable artifact- the tusks of a legendary African elephant- you might suppose the reader would feel less inclined to turn the pages while so many characters are being introduced and then discarded. But each is so fascinating and thoroughly unique in its own right that these disparate scenarios only enhance the compelling explorations of the main characters.
The novel begins in the far future and introduces the last remaining member of the Maasai tribe, Bukoba Mandaka, and details his desperate quest to obtain the tusks of the greatest elephant ever to walk the Earth. But it is the researcher whom he has hired to locate this most elusive of treasures who acts as the main protagonist in the novel. It is the discoveries Duncan Rojas uncovers in relation to the diverse history of the tusks, described over the course of the story, that are the substance of the novel and from whose perspective the author returns to periodically throughout. Both these characters are incredibly well drawn and sympathetic, and the far-flung-future setting they inhabit is phenomenally absorbing and authentic. I was amazed, particularly, by the technological descriptions, which are eerily reminiscent of many of the current technological advances being developed today.
I have to agree with every point a previous reviewer has made. I didn't expect the plot to be as gripping as it was, but was very pleased to be proved wrong, and while this book is certainly as good as `Kirinyaga', I would still recommend that title to be read first by newcomers to Mike Resnick. But that doesn't detract in any way from `Ivory'- one of the most thoroughly absorbing stories I've read in a long time. Highly recommended.