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    Review of WISDOM OF THE FOX by Harry Turtledove

    Baen, November 1999

    Gerin The Fox is one of the thin line of border barons, holding back the Trokmoi from across the river as they continue to invade. Generations before, the Elabon army had marched north, conquered these lands, sent the Trokmoi reeling in fear--but now the empire is weak and inward-looking and the Trokmoi have a new wizard who claims to have rediscovered ancient knowledge and has the skills to make his claim convincing. Gerin knows the answer is to convince a powerful mage to come north from Elabon and help--but even a fox can have problems convincing the mages of anything. His life only gets more complicated when the daughter of one of his oldest allies decides she doesn't like the husband her father has picked for her and decides to run away from the marriage--with Gerin.

    Author Harry Turtledove (see more reviews of novels by Turtledove) combines bronze-age military technology (bronze weapons, chariots), late Roman-Empire invasion, and magic in some intriguing world-building. The real power of this story comes from the character of Gerin himself. Unlike those around him, Gerin questions himself and plans for the future--sometimes at the risk of losing the present. Secondary characters are mostly one-dimensional, but occasionally show deeper development.

    WISDOM OF THE FOX is a compilation of two previously published novels, WERENIGHT and PRINCE OF THE NORTH, and reflects an earlier stage of Turtledove's writing. The story-telling is taut, however, and Turtledove delivers plenty of battle, enjoyable scheming, and romance. (Spoiler alert: some readers (including this one) will be disappointed at the way romance plays between the two novels that make up the collection. I suspect Turtledove was thinking about the Arthur/Lancelot/Gueneviere legend when he wrote this and used three separate women to play the Gueneviere part).

    If you enjoy sword and sorcery-type adventure and you'd like something a bit more thoughtful than the smash and run style, WISDOM OF THE FOX may be just what you're looking for.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 12/26/07

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