Wednesday 4 May 2022

A Tapestry of Magics, by Brian Daley


Having recently enjoyed and reviewed Brian Daley's Coramonde books, I decided to re-read the only other book by this author on my shelves, A Tapestry of Magics. Daley creates an intriguing world (or more accurately, universe) centred on the Singularity, also known as the Charmed Realm. To quote: 

A fixed sphere amid the fluxes and flows of of the infinite Realities, the Singularity was buffered from them by the indefinite zone of mutability and access, the Beyonds. In the Beyonds, people and other things passed into and out of the Realities. If the opening were of the right sort, whole regions along with their populations might come into existence in the Beyonds, or leave them. Sometimes those who travelled between Realities found their way home again; sometimes they perished, or became lost and strayed into a Reality not their own.  Sometimes they arrived at the Singularity or simply found themselves a place, for a long stay or a short one, in the Beyonds. 

The Realities, better known to SF readers as the Multiverse, were apparently infinite in their possibilities (one of them being our very own Universe), although the story doesn't go there, all of the action being set in the Beyonds and the Singularity. The Beyonds were ungoverned and lawless lands in which almost anything might happen, and anyone turn up - including figures from our history and even those from fiction (Count Dracula making a cameo appearance at one point). 

The Singularity was, in effect, a small country in the usual medieval style expected of epic fantasy, with a feudal social structure and an apparently immortal King (no-one dared ask him about that, but since he was a highly competent ruler no-one was bothered). Magic sometimes worked, but what succeeded in one Reality might not work in the Singularity or the Beyonds.  Technology also sort of worked, but not reliably, so warriors generally preferred simple weapons. The story follows the activities of Crassmor, a young scion of a noble Singularity family and a reluctant knight who prefers the softer and prettier things in life, if only people would leave him alone. 

At the beginning of this three-part novel, the Beyonds are the stage for an epic contest between an invading barbarian horde, whose cavalry are mounted on giant lizards, and a seriously misplaced army from a technological Reality which sounds suspiciously like Nazi Germany.  These opponents pose a real threat to the Singularity, whose strategy is to get them fighting each other, which works well until the technologists run out of fuel and ammunition. 

Next we see Crassmor as a knight errant, patrolling the Beyonds and responding to appeals for help from various beleaguered citizens. In the final part, the Singularity faces an existential threat from within.

I wouldn't describe this book as a comedy, although it contains a lot of humour and is very much at the light entertainment end of the seriousness scale. Like the Coramonde stories, it is a lot of fun and well worth reading.

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