Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Warming Frost

To my way of thinking Gregory Frost’s Shadowbridge (Del Rey) is the kind of book that can start genre arguments, and on so many levels!

In the first place, the writing here is beautiful. Beyond beautiful. It’s sublime. And when critics think of fantasy novels, the first thing that jumps into mind is not prose that uplifts. And yet:
The first time Ledora spoke to a god, she had climbed to the top of the bridge tower and she was masked….

The towers – there were three supporting Vijnagar – were like great flat-topped and frieze-covered behemoths looming above the buildings and creatures on the surface that threaded the distance between them.

Frost writes, as I’ve said, beautifully. Lyrically, even. He writes as though he’s going to a place there is no coming back from. It seems to me to be the only place from which fantasy should be approached.

On his Web site, Frost describes the fictional place we encounter in Shadowbridge as “a world of linked spiraling spans of bridges on which all impossibilities can happen. Ghosts parade, inscrutable gods cast riddles, and dangerous magic is unleashed.” And… “Monstrous creatures drain the lives of children and for a price, you can sample their fleeting quintessence -- provided the creatures don’t sample you instead.” And, truly, aside from the whole fleeting quintessence thing, that works for me, as well.

Frost, who is also the author of the virtuous and awarded collection Attack of the Jazz Giants, has been a finalist for pretty much every award offered in his field of interest. In Shadowbridge, he proves himself to be a powerful writer here at the top of his game. If you love the sort of vibrant fantasy that relies as much on the skill of its creator as the complexity of his imagination, you will love Shadowbridge.

If you read and like Frost’s latest, there’s good news: while Shadowbridge: Book One was published just last month, you don’t have long to wait for the second book in the “duology.” It will be in stores this coming June.

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