Ancient Light Hardcover – 18 Aug 1988
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The sequel to Golden Witchbreed
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Top Customer Reviews
In this book the ambassador has returned after some years and diplomacy has progressed so that equipment is being imported to Orthe. Weaponry is not permitted, but as we are reminded, anything can be used as a weapon. The native people are derived from reptiles and are greatly suspicious of the artefacts of their previous ruling class, the golden witchbreed. No wonder, as we learn that the witchbreed were more malevolent and destructive than we had realised.
By the end it all goes horribly wrong and Gentle said that she wanted to create a Jacobean tragedy, with the stage littered with bodies at the closing curtain. Had she not done that, she could have invited us back to Orthe, her finest creation, at any time; so she and her readers are both the losers. Having read this first and admired it I was able to read the previous book so maybe that after all is the best approach to take.
I have never been able to get into any other books by Gentle. If you have not enjoyed her other works, do give the Orthe duet a try as the first in particular is a wonderful adventure full of excellently drawn characters.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is darker than the first, with a much different pace. It's a serious look at how destructive culture clash can be, and in this case the results are total. Be warned : if you like happy endings, this one's not for you. But it's a remarkable book, and it deserves a spot on your shelf.
Ancient Light marks the return of Christie "S'aranth" to Orthe, now in the pay of an exploitative vaguely John Company-esque corporation. Will Witchbreed technology be rediscovered? What harm will the Company do post-holocaust Orthe? And how will Christie reinvent her relationships with her former friends and rivals?
Hampered by a slowly unfolding, jerkily paced and overly complex plot, this is at times a powerful book. It's powerful enough, especially taken with its wonderful prequel, to make me care; to make me care a lot.
And that's why I wish I hadn't read it. Without wanting to spoil the ending... to say that it's depressing is an understatement. It hurts. I suspect the book is a parable about interference and exploitation. It's not an unintelligent treatment. But it's not, by any stretch of the imagination, fun to read.
And yes, Lynne de Lisle Christie returns to Orthean world to help mediate PanOcania, a company bent upon getting Golden Witchbreed's artefacts to learn their science. It is exploitation and it has that fatalistic turn that once Earth has entered Carrick V nothing will ever be the same and again and again..........you wish that Earth envoy should have stayed away. Could the phrase "all knowledge is worth acquiring" ever hit a bigger snag than here in this book.........I don't think so. The pathos, the sadness, the desire for what was lost in the Golden empire, the post holocaust depression, and the inevitable feeling, it can never be the same ever again.
And you do get so involved in the book that by the end, you know and care about these humans and aliens and yes, exactly, it hurts. And it stays with you. And on a semiconscious level, you also think it can happen to us and probably will without even anyone interferring in future.