First Ace Edition, 1964
Cover Art: Uncredited (please leave a message if you know)
Plot Synopsis (of cover): It began as an idyllic evening. The setting sun shone radiant across verdant fields, christening the sky with soft pastels. Clouds were friendly across the distant horizon, threatening no storms—only greater majesty with which to bless a perfect picnic. The smell of sweet grass, cooling from a warm day, lingered in the nostrils, and birdsong flitted in and out of earshot. It was this deceptively benign sound that signaled the end of the pastoral gloaming, for it heralded the arrival of the Bad Witch Cizzenia! “Cease your happy frolicking!” she called, “Submit to the will and law of Cizzenia, or face the terror of her dreadful clockwork formation of Patriarchaeopteryxes!” The crimson-clad young man sprang up to defend his companion. “Cizzenia! We meet again. You should know by now that your antiquated moral conventions and steampunk-era technology cannot hope to dampen the pride of Roger, the Sprightly Sorcerer!” As Roger took out his wand to do battle with the heteronormative hexer, Gary rolled over and, with a disillusioned sigh, uninstalled Grindr.
Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: This is the first Ace Double that I’m doing, which is great, because I love these things. For those unfamiliar, Ace Doubles are actually two books stuck together. I’m only going to be reviewing the one pictured above, not the one stuck to the back of it, but I wanted to mention it because the Ace Doubles are some of my favorite classic paperbacks to snatch up. The one I’m reviewing here is tangentially related to the author’s Darkover series. There’s a bit of flip-flopping regarding whether or not it belongs in continuity, but the Internet scuttlebutt seems to indicate that, while it takes place in the same universe, it stands alone as its own story. I’ve not read the Darkover series (this novella makes me think it might be worth the effort), but the story here was published before any of the other Darkover books, so I thought it safe to read without having to delve into the setting. So, blah blah woof woof, Falcons of Narabedla. This is sword-and-sorcery with the implication that the sorcery is just really advanced science that isn’t readily explainable by 20th-century reckoning. You know, like the Coca-Cola Freestyle. It’s a familiar concept executed well in a colorful universe filled with intrigue and mystery. While the end felt a bit rushed, likely due to the novel’s length, I didn’t feel cheated (I’m looking at YOU, Sign of the Labrys). It did leave me hungry for more, which is good, since there are apparently plenty of books in this universe. However, contrary to what I’m considering a once-implied, now breached contract between myself and the cover of this book, the text contains no explicit homosexual sex scenes, so I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone not willing to write filthy things in the margins.
Rating: 9.2 Pairs of Strangely Comfortable Man-Tights
Questions for Critical Cover-Viewing:
* Who brings a knife to a falcon-fight?
* Given that the woman is on a horse, could she move farther away to take advantage of her ranged attack, or does the iFalcon have really shitty wi-fi range?
* When 1800s Bavaria called, did they ask for their opera costume back?