Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Ever Read a 4-Novel-Series 5 Times?

The year was 1976…

The young woman in the image was 34 and had her first novel published—Gate of Ivrel

She followed that, in 1978, with the second in the series, Well of Shiuan

The third book, Fires of Azeroth, was published in 1979

And that was the “complete” story of Morgaine and Vanye

—until 1988 when Exile’s Gate was published.

The author is C. J. Cherryh—born Carolyn Janice Cherry—multiple Hugo Award winner—produced over 60 books—even has an asteroid named after her (77185 Cherryh).

I just finished reading those books for the 5th time yesterday

I wouldn’t recommend them to everyone

First, because they don’t easily fall into the genre-rut (though plenty of people have tried to ram them into various categories…).

Yes, there are lords and swords, horses and bandits, undying love and treachery, alien technology and whisperings of witchcraft

Still, these books are, to me, not “Science Fiction” nor “Fantasy” nor “Science Fantasy” nor “Sword-and-sorcery meets hard sci-fi”.

The acclaimed author, Andre Norton, wrote an introduction for the first edition of the first book and said:

“Never since reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ have I been so caught up in any tale as I have been in ‘Gate of Ivrel’.”

I also can’t cram Lord of the Rings into a genre.

I’m not sure when I first read them

Yet, each reading revealed more—each reading gave vast impetus to my own writing—each reading spurred me toward deep self-examination.

That last could be my second reason for not recommending them to everyone—so many folk are desperate to avoid self-examination

The third reason I don’t say everyone should read them is that the main characters reverse nearly every standard of “normal” relationships:

Morgaine, woman, leader of men, world-saver, often autocratic, feared by most, skilled in war.

Vanye, man, outcast warrior, claimed in servitude to Morgaine, in doubt about his courage, often alarmingly emotional, superstitious.

Cherryh in an interview:

“It was a set of characters I’d invented when I was, oh, about thirteen. So it was an old favorite of my untold stories…”

I do wish everyone who likes to read would read these books.

Perhaps more of us could work through the perilous patterns of relationship

Perhaps more of us could face our inner demons

Perhaps more of us could see hope where the world only shows decay and riot

Perhaps more of us could face each other with utter loyalty and trust

If I meet people who want to read something full of spirit but I know they abhor religion, I recommend these books

There is an amazing element of these stories that most articles shove in your face.

I’m going to let you discover it for yourself :-)

It’s being rumored there will be The Gates of Morgaine movies

Here are a few more quotes from the Andre Norton introduction:

“…there are indeed no supermen or superwomen—rather there are very human beings, torn by many doubts and fears, who are driven by a sense of duty to march ahead into a dark they are sure holds death. Ancient evils hang like noisome cobwebs, the stubbornness of unbelievers wrecks again and again their quest. Wounded, nearly at the edge of their strength, shamefully forsworn in the eyes of all they could once call kin, they continue to push on to the last test of all.”

“Few books have produced such characters as to draw a reader with them, completely out of this mundane world…one accepts it all without any longer remembering that this is a creation of an imagination. It might be actual history—from another plane.”

And, a final quote from Norton that I can actually feel like I wrote:

“Books flow in and out of our lives in an unending stream. Some we remember briefly, others bring us sitting upright, tense with suspense, our attention enthralled until the last word on the last page is digested. Then we step regretfully from the world that author has created, and we know that volume will be chosen to stand on already too tightly packed shelves to be read again and again.”

There is now a one-volume edition called, The Complete Morgaine (that last link is for the paperback and e-book on Amazon—go here for free world-wide delivery of the paperback)
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2 responses to “Ever Read a 4-Novel-Series 5 Times?

  1. Jane Watson May 23, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Well this is such an inspiring description of what you appreciate in Cherryh’s works that I feel compelled to look at the Morgaine series. I will :-)


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