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REVIEW: DREAMERS OF OURDH, THE by Thelbert Dewain Belgard, reviewed by Christopher Moss
Reviewed by Christopher Moss
4 out of 5 stars
Ourdh is a planet colonized by humans from Earth many hundreds of years ago. They have divided roughly into three clans, the Emerald, the Crimson and the Indigo. Each clan has its origins, the Emerald from North America, the Crimson from Northern Europe and the Indigo from all the tropical areas of the home planet. There is a native species as well, the Ourdhmen, reminiscent of the American Indian tribes in lifestyle and how they are regarded by the colonists. At the start of the novel the clans are on the brink of war due to the greed for land and domination by some of the powerful.
Not all the powerful are bent on theft and violence. The prince of the Indigo clan, which resembles Ancient Greek culture in dress and a sort of transcendental Eastern tradition by philosophy, is Arenh, the son of a murdered king. he has been kept away from his lifelong love, the now King of the Crimson Clans, Mikah, by decree of the main villain of the piece, Adhalmar. When the Dreamers, a sort of spiritual advisory council, informs Arenh of impending threat, he finds his father's amulet and uses it to transport himself to Mikah in the Crimson Palace. Mikah is married now, but Arenh remains his first and true love. Together they are able to prevent the disastrous use of a powerful weapon palmed off on the simple Ourdhmen by the bad guy and his cronies. The villain is captured and mysteriously murdered, so everything is great, right? No, wrong. Arenh begins to suspect some devious plan of the Dreamers, particularly when trumped up charges are brought against him for the villain's death. In the meantime, Arenh and Mikah's old love affair is renewed but at the same time threatened by Mikah's need to get himself an heir.
I will be candid with you, readers, and admit it has been some time since I read a lot of science fiction. I don't know, then, whether it is an accepted convention of the genre to lay out the unfamiliar planet's history and culture before getting into the story. Once the story does get going the characters catch the reader up and the ins and outs of a clever plot... or plots.. takes hold. Arenh is something of a seeker in the Buddhist tradition, and while Mikah is as worldly as they come, the psychic connection between them as well as the love draws him to join his lover's "mind training". The author does a grand job with showing the interplay of mental communication and speech as well as the body language of love making between the two young men. In fact, communication is one of the themes of the novel, how minds communicate differently than mouths do, how people either try to hide or express their feelings and thoughts, how the simple act of bridging the barrier of language can draw disparate peoples together and overcome ignorance and prejudice.
Love and kinship is another theme, again handled well by the author, and includes some unexpected twists and turns. At one point Arenh tries to explain to Mikah that time is not linear, that the seemingly simple fact of birth and death and of family are not givens. This applies to relationships between the important characters. Someone might be your long lost brother and someone else not really your mother. Rather than shaking the bonds of familial affection, the changes strengthen them.
Clearly the archetype of the Other/Messiah plays a role in the novel as well.
That transcendental view of time, of the insufficiency of any duality between then and now, good and bad, right and wrong, characterizes not only the main character, prince Arenh, but also the tone of the book itself. There is a clear intention to parallel social, political and environmental issues we face today. There is a bit of the "Noble Savage" good, western technology bad theme going on here. Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the novel to me was that while these former Earthlings adhere to a Mother Goddess -- and by the way, who is and is not a god is another brilliant theme -- their culture does not allow women to be the heirs to much of anything. In fact, it was touch and go there for a while whether any of the female characters would turn out to be admirable.
The writing occasionally could use a little "show, don't tell" advice and likewise "don't explain everything" but this is a minor flaw. The involving, engaging nature of the story glows like a crystal beacon, and I have already told two friends they want to read this book.