The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Harry Turtledove’s two novels present the story of Gerin the Fox, a baron on the northern border of the Empire of Elabon, who attempts to preserve his realm against attacks by barbarians, a wizard, monsters, and rival nobles. Gerin first confronts the challenge of the evil wizard, Balamung, and must seek the aid of a sorcerer from the Empire of Elabon. After the wizard’s defeat, Gerin establishes his own kingdom in the north, because the only route to the Empire of Elabon has been cut off. His kingdom is far from secure, as it is threatened by attacks from a barbarian ruler, a rival monarch, and strange monsters. Gerin overcomes these challenges and then stands on the precipice of even greater power.

Gerin’s adventures begin in Werenight with a surprise attack by Balamung’s army of barbarians, known as the Trokmoi, on Fox Keep. By observing the powerful magic used by the Trokmoi in their assault, Gerin realizes that Balamung has come into possession of the Book of Shabeth-Shiri, an artifact of immense power. Gerin decides to travel to the capital of the Empire of Elabon to hire a wizard to fight Balamung.

Gerin sets forth on his journey with his close friend, Van of the Strong Arm, a powerful fighter. During the first part of their voyage, Gerin and Van stop at the castle of Ricolf the Red, another baron, who is about to name the man whom his daughter, Elise, will marry. When the choice is announced as Wolfar the Axe, the chief rival of Gerin in the north, Elise decides to flee the castle with the Fox in order to live with her uncle in Elabon.

When the trio reaches Elabon, Gerin and Van leave Elise with her uncle and go to seek the aid of a wizard. Their request for aid is refused by the wizards because they do not believe his claims and do not see the need to help the northern provinces. Gerin discovers that Ricolf’s first choice for Elise’s husband, Rihwin the Fox, has some magical ability and might be able to help him. Gerin recruits Rihwin to fight Balamung, and, as they leave Elabon, they are joined by Elise, who no longer wishes to live with her uncle.

As the four comrades...

(The entire section is 877 words.)