The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Stanton A. Coblentz’s When the Birds Fly South tells the story of a doomed romance in a hidden valley. An American adventurer, Dan Prescott, discovers the hidden Valley of Sobul and its mysterious inhabitants, the Ibandru, in the mountains of Afghanistan. During his stay in the valley, Dan falls in love with and eventually marries one of the Ibandru, Yasma. Unable to understand why the members of the tribe must travel south in the winter, Dan destroys his marriage when he forces Yasma to stay with him rather than going with her people.

The story begins with Dan’s first-person account of his eagerness to reach a rock formation that looks like a giant woman. When he attempts to reach what he believes to be a statue, Dan becomes separated from his comrade, Jaspar Damon, and nearly dies when he rushes through a thick fog. Dan is rescued by the Ibandru, the mysterious inhabitants of the Valley of Sobul. As he recovers from his injuries, Dan learns the Ibandru’s language and soon falls in love with a young woman, Yasma.

Dan soon finds himself confronted with several mysteries surrounding the Ibandru and their valley. He learns that they worship the goddess Yulada, represented by the colossal statue of the woman. Dan also is confronted with the strange disappearance of the Ibandru when the birds fly south for the winter. When he attempts to follow the Ibandru as they leave their village, Dan loses track of them as if they had vanished...

(The entire section is 531 words.)