This was Michael Shea’s third fantasy novel, after the rather audacious A Quest for Simbilis (1974) and the award-winning Nifft the Lean (1982). It is the story of Bramt Hex, an overweight, opinionated, vain student of magic who has become tired of his sedentary life and wishes for some excitement.
A chance meeting at an inn brings him into contact with Madam Poon, widow of the crooked merchant Orgle Poon. Hex desires her, more as a social climber than for any sexual gratification. She, in turn, is quite happy to have a man about the place, but he must prove his worth.
Hex is sent to dispose of one of her late husbands properties, a brothel. The episode does not work out well for Hex: The whores rebel, knowing the brothel is being sold to a demon. Hex bungles the negotiations and decides not to stay and witness the ire of Madam Poon. He is now unable to return to his hometown and muses with the idea of traveling the world.
During his earlier negotiations he had learned of the land of Yana, where people can find immortality. He becomes entranced at the possible size of the world, and when he hears of Yana for a second time, he begins to wonder whether he might find it and, once immortal, whether he might journey across the world, writing of his travels. This naïve desire so appeals to Hex that no matter what perils he subsequently faces, he steadfastly pursues the goal of Yana. In fact, Hex increasingly becomes...
(The entire section is 409 words.)