Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

Stonefather by Orson Scott Card


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Stonefather by Orson Scott Card
Subterranean, 2008, 112pp.

It is no big secret that I’m a fan of Orson Scott Card. Nor is it a big secret that many others are also fans. OSC is one of the bestselling authors in both the science fiction and fantasy genres. He has built that reputation over more than three decades with both stand-alone novels and series, but more because of the latter.

In science fiction, he’s best known for his Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow series. In fantasy, he’s written one series — The Tales of Alvin Maker — plus a number of stand alones, but he is now expanding out into another series. I would have said it is a new series, but one of his early short stories, “Sandmagic” from 1979 (and later included in Maps in a Mirror), is set in the Mithermages world. However, since three decades has passed since the publication of “Sandmagic”, one could as well say that the series is starting anew with Stonefather.

Stonefather is a limited-edition novella chapbook by Subterranean Press. It serves as a brief introduction to the Mithermages world before Card dives in with The Lost Gate, due out today from Tor.

The story is a fairly standard one that follows a young boy who feels out of place in the world he lives in and so he heads out to find himself. In this case, the young boy is Runnel who has grown up in the village of Farzibeck, which is dedicated to the water god Yeggut (hence his water name). But he’s a younger son of a large family, and so he is not of much value to his parents, other than as a hand on the work that must be done to maintain a subsistence existence. So one day, Runnel just starts walking and ends up in Mitherhome, the city of the water mages.

Of course, once there, Runnel begins to find himself, with the story culminating in him discovering who he is and his place in the world.

As you can see, the plot is fairly formulaic and not to interesting in and of itself. Card, however, is a master writer and so even a story with an unexceptional plot is interesting in his hands. At 112 pages, this is indeed a novella and manages to keep the reader’s attention for its short length, but I’m sure if it was longer, it would have become flat and boring quickly. Still, though, Card has created an interesting fantasy world that makes me want to follow up on the series and read The Lost Gate soon, now that it has come out.

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