April 14, 2004

Casting Fortune by John M. Ford

castingfortune.jpgI've had this book for a long time and have been saving it to savor some rainy weekend since John M. Ford is one of those writers who doesn't write nearly enough books. I didn't know anything about it and thought it was a stand-alone novel. Then I saw a reference to it on a blog somewhere that gave away the fact that it's actually a collection of three stories set in the Liavek shared world. That was enough to bounce it onto the top of the stack.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know the Liavek books, they were a shared world fantasy series edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. There were five volumes: Liavek (1985), The Players of Luck (1986), Wizard's Row (1987), Spells of Binding (1988), and Festival Week (1990). I only discovered the series long after it was no longer a series. It took ages to hunt down all the books. The authors of the stories are all people I had either read before or went on to read more of after reading their Liavek stuff. I think the story "A Cup of Worrynot Tea" (from Players of Luck) is what first got me started reading John M. Ford, so it's funny that I should later find I had bought a sixth Liavek book I didn't even know existed just because it had his name on the cover. (I usually don't read the cover copy on books, which explains how I missed the setting of this one.)

Well, and lo and behold, the first story in Casting Fortune is "A Cup of Worrynot Tea". I still like this story a lot. It's about a bunch of interlocking plots which all sort of simultaneously foil each other. The title phrase's meaning within the story still strikes me as a particularly fine bit of culture-building.

The other stories I didn't remember from my previous readings.

"Green Is the Color" is a murder mystery that first appeared in Wizard's Row. It was fun to read, but I think I bashed through it too quickly to get it.

The third story "The Illusionist" seems to be original to this volume. It's a multi-tiered murder mystery tied around and through the story of the rehearsal and presentation of a new play. Very complexly plotted and yet completely character-driven. Great suspense.

Good complex stories, all, just as I'd expect from the excellent Mr. Ford.

Pamela Dean recently announced that she has a contract to write a new Liavek novel so I have an excuse to go back and re-read the series. Not that I needed one. Update: My brain slipped a gear. Ms. Dean has a contract for a joint sequel to her (recently reprinted, yay!) Whim of the Dragon and The Dubious Hills. According to her live journal she is still working on a Liavek novel, but no contract exists yet.

Posted by jeffy at April 14, 2004 12:48 AM