Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gate of Ivrel by C. J. Cherryh

Re-reading this book falls under revisiting my early years of science fiction and fantasy reading. This book hooked me on C. J. Cherryh back when I was 15 years old. So I thought it would be fun to go back and see how it holds up.

The gates were scattered throughout time and space by a vanished alien race. When someone used the gates to travel backwards in time, disaster occurred. The last remaining members of the race takes on a mission to close the gates. It is a one way mission. Morgaine is one of the alien's assigned to close the gates. On her journey to Ivrel, she teams up with a native named Vayne. Everywhere they go, disaster follows. In spite of everything, Vayne is committed to following Morgaine.

I enjoy a good science fantasy story. Writers like Andre Norton, C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Roger Zelazny, and Mark Geston (with the ultimate war between science and magic-Siege of Wonder) have given me many hours of reading pleasure. At the time, I was captivated by this book. Now it is a different experience.

This is, I believe, Cherryh's first book and it shows. The language is very convoluted. It is a struggle to read the sentences in this story. I believe this sold on the strength of the story. The idea is interesting. I can see where Cherryh showed signs of promise based on her ideas. Unfortunately her sentence building was not equal to her ideas.

The other thing I did not remember was the overwhelming sense of depression. This is a dark story. Maybe the later books influenced my memories of this one, but I did not remember this being such a bleak book.

I would pass on this one unless you are a devote Cherryh fan.


Carl V. said...

I have yet to read any Cherryh, although I have picked up her book Downbelow Station a couple of times in the store recently as it looks and sounds interesting. There are a few books from my youth that I hesitate to revisit because I know I will feel this same way about them. Conversely, there are some books from my youth that I know are not examples of stellar storytelling that still light a fire of pleasure in me whenever I revisit them. I'm sorry this wasn't that way for you.

Jim Black said...

The way I look at it is for every disappointment(Gate of Ivrel) there is a book that continues to be a favorite(Caves of Steel). I will keep on re-reading old favorites from time to time. Some of the ones on my list are Star Watchman by Ben Bova and Mindship by Gerard F. Conway.

Currently, I am reading Old Man's War for the first time.

Carl V. said...

I'm excited that you are reading Old Man's War. I hope that you enjoy it.

Any thoughts on Downbelow Station?

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

I have yet to read anything by Cherryh, so will keep out for one of her other stories.

Jim Black said...

Downbelow Station is on my to be read list. I have heard mixed reactions to it. Some of my friends raved about it, others said they could not connect with the characters. I will be reading it at some point in the future.

The debate I always have(with myself) is whether to concentrate on authors I know I like or keep on mixing in ones I have not read. I am trying for a balance. After Old Man's War I am debating between trying Peter Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction or reading Asimov's The Gods Themselves.

Carl V. said...

I of course hope that when you get to the end of Old Man's War that you have a burning desire to read the next book, The Ghost Brigades, which I think is an even better read.

The Gods Themselves is on my list of Asimov reads that I want to get to. I'm currently half way through the Robot Dreams collection. I'm reading it in bits in between other stories and should finish it sometime within the next week or so. I also have his Currents of Space that I found cheap in a used bookstore that I am wanting to read.

Carl V. said...

I guess I didn't ask, but I meant to, where would you recommend someone start with reading Cherryh?

Jim Black said...

I would recommend The Pride of Chanur(also in the Chanur Saga collection) or the Faded Sun Trilogy. The other Cherryh book that comes highly recommended is Cyteen. So far, I have not read Cyteen but it seems to get a lot of good reviews.

The Chanur stories are sort of the Cherryh version of Star Wars.

The Faded Sun books feature a human who joins an alien race in an attempt to save both species. This is an old favorite of mine.

Carl V. said...

Thanks Jim, I appreciate the recommendations. I've heard a lot of good things about Cyteen as well and the ones you recommend certainly spark my interest.