Having bought all three of Kim Hunter’s `The Red Pavilions’ trilogy, I confess I struggled through the opener and found myself delaying a read of `Wizard’s Funeral’. However, when I got round to it one rainy day, I found it a vast improvement on the opener. Primarily because there was a single plot line that runs throughout with the occasional side trip to provide diversion. Which was lacking in the first novel.
Basically, Soldier goes on a few quests again to locate the new High Magus with the unpronounceable palindromic name (as all the wizards in this series) and returns with him and the two Princes from another kingdom whose unruly ways in a perfect world have caused their exile. By unwittingly ordering the raven to free the prisoner in the sealed chamber just after attending the Wizard’s funeral (as a kind of thank you) Soldier unleashes the evil wizard (another unpronounceable palindromic name) on Guthrum. Thousands die and Soldier ends up firstly uniting the Carthagan army against the Dog Clans, then having a side quest to an exotic land to recover his now memory-less wife, Layana (and reuniting with her madness cured luckily), who has been cast out of Zamerkand by the evil usurping Chancellor Humbold (who promotes Kaff to a general in the meantime), and finally ends up besieging his adopted home as Queen Vance is executed.
All in all a tidy second effort unique in style that takes me right back to a hybrid of some great fantasy novels. It is Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ at times as our protagonist skips like a L. E. Modesitt Jr. main character through an Alice in Wonderland world of myth and fairy tale come to life. We learn more of Soldier’s past as a Scottish clansman before getting set up for the last novel which has to be read now out of sheer curiosity. Hunter’s style is interesting and enthralling in a manner caused by never quite settling into a theme or pattern. It is as chaotic as it can be episodic but we now have continuity of main plot as well as main character.
If you’re an avid fantasy fan give this a go. I suspect you’ll like it more and more as you go along if you give it the time it needs.
Categories: Kim Hunter