© Estate of Roger Zelazny.
I thought I’d read all of Zelazny’s published fiction, but this one slipped by me somehow. (There are two others I haven’t read, books for younger readers illustrated by Vaughn Bode, now impossible to find or afford. I mean, aside from those.) It’s a slim volume, from a time when fantasy novels were generally much shorter than they are now, before Tolkienitis had bloated them so much. Published in 1987, it may well have been written earlier. Byron Preiss is involved as a packager, and another publisher is also cited.
Despite the relative shortness, 150 pages, Zelazny is in fine form, and he fills the book with great world-building ideas and fine displays of inventive magic and battles between parallel universes that make it seem quite a long story. James Wiley is part of a family full of magic abilities. His sister Becky is a witch, and many of his relatives are magicial, part of an organization keeping watch over our own Earth and many parallel Earths, which are threatened by several dark universes that want to swallow them. It’s a battle going on in secret, and when James’ father disappears suddenly with signs of foul play, it becomes clear that a new attack has begun. James wants to get involved in the search for his father, and his sister agrees to help him. Before long they’re both on another Earth where magic is more common and openly used. The only problem is, it brings out the latent magic in James himself, the ability to take on wolf form. James is a werewolf, only he doesn’t know how to control that part of his nature. He must learn quickly to survive!
Soon the battle is joined, great powers are struggling over a prize that could turn the tide either way. Before long James and Becky are fighting beside other family members and surprising secrets are revealed. The powers against them are vast. The stakes are high. The writing is poetic and full of vivid imagery and fine characters as only Roger Zelazny could craft them!