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Cup of Clay (Taliswoman, Bk 1) Paperback – January, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Minnesota newspaper reporter suddenly finds herself in the devastated world of Veil, where water is frequently poisonous and children are cast out because of mutations (or birth-banes) in this ecologically oriented fantasy. Alison Carver rescues five ragged, feral children, who call themselves the Littlelost, from a band of depraved miners. Soon afterward, she encounters a young man named Rowan, who informs her that Veil is a world of magic that has fallen on hard times because the earth has been poisoned. Rowan is on his way to a music competition to contend for the Cup of Earth, which has properties that can restore his blighted land of Desmeyne. When Alison enters the contest and wins the cup, Rowan is devastated, particularly when she reveals she is a woman; in sexist Veil females are highly sheltered and considered intellectually inferior. Although Alison agrees to use the powers of the Cup to aid Desmeyne, many barriers remain, including the prejudice of Rowan's people against Alison and the Littlelost. A spirited heroine, Alison aids the hero in his first quest and then bows out--for the time being only, one presumes, since this is the first of a projected trilogy by Douglas ( Good Night, Mr. Holmes ).
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A Minneapolis reporter discovers that her family's island retreat has become a gateway to another world in this first novel of a series set in the troubled land of Veil. Douglas (the "Sword and Circlet" trilogy) treads the borderline between fantasy and allegory as her modern-world heroine faces the forces of evil in the all-too-familiar guises of environmental pollution and chronic child abuse. Strong characterizations and polished writing make this a recommended title for most fantasy collections.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Taliswoman, Bk 1
  • Paperback: 393 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (January 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812512480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812512489
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,376,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Award-winning ex-journalist and novelist Carole Nelson Douglas has written sixty-three novels ranging from historical and contemporary mystery and romance to science fiction thrillers to high and urban fantasy. No wonder her home office is a Twilight Zone landscape of mannequins in vintage dress.

She's a four-time Rita Award finalist and has RT Reviews Magazine lifetime achievement awards in Suspense, Mystery and as a Pioneer of Publishing. Currently, she writes two popular Las Vegas-set series: the Midnight Louie, feline PI, mysteries partially narrated by a "Sam Spade with hairballs" and the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, noir urban fantasies of werewolf mobsters and Silver Screen zombies in a paranormal Sin City.

Douglas was the first author of a Sherlockian series with a female protagonist, diva-detective Irene Alder, the only woman to outwit Holmes, debuting with the New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Good Night, Mr. Holmes. Douglas says if she has a literary muse, it's definitely feline: mysterious, wise, playful, and packing sharp shivs in velvet gloves.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have always despised novels that tried to mix fantasy and reality, but Cup of Clay was a wonderful breath of fresh air. The characters are neither perfect nor heinous, but realistically flawed. Though some elements of the plot were predictable, there were quite a few unexpected twists. Finally the unique setting and culture drew me into the world of Veil and kept me enthralled until the end. The pleasure continues in the second novel "Seed upon the Wind" and I am anxiously awaiting the third book in the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
i first came across cup of clay while doing a book report for my ninth grade class, and was stunned when the story knocked me off my feet. i dug through a million layers of sellers to get the second book, and have written letters to carole nelson douglas begging her to write the third. ms. douglas, if you're reading this - BLACKMAIL YOUR PUBLISHERS! finish the story!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judah on September 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is cross-over fantasy insertion, meaning the main character is taken from her modern life and thrust straight into a strange fantasy realm. It's not urban fantasy, because it doesn't take place in a modern (or city) setting, and it's written in a third person perspective. It resembles Landover (Brooks), The Spellsong Sorceress (Modesitt), and The Chronicles of The Unbeliever (Donaldson).

What if instead of writing a story in which the protagonist is a male self-hating leper, Stephen R. Donaldson had written his saga of The Unbeliever starring a not-prone-to-angst, Taekwondo-practicing, inquisitive female newspaper reporter? That's what the story of Alison of Island-Not felt like. Same mysterious crossover into the fantasy realm, same epic-type quest, same allegorical traveling companions.

And unlike poor sick Thomas Covenant who rebelled against his role as a savior, I rooted for Alison, who takes an attitude of 'I gots this mystical thingamajig, let's see how much I can do for these ignorant people'.

Anyway, the book itself is self-contained, but I'll still be tracking down Seed upon the Wind (Tallis Women, No 2). I hear the third book was never written, and that's a shame. Great series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Pedrick on June 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book over 15 years ago, it's part of what's supposed to be a trilogy that never got past book two so I warn you, it's a really good, imaginative, unique read (of its time)that will hook you and leave you whining to the author (yeah, so what, it deserves to be finished) for more. Female time traveler meet chauvinist, challenges male/female concepts, is empowered, faces dangers and a society full of secrets that threaten her continued existence, and falls into the role of the heroine... But don't read it if you can't handle waiting for completion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Pulsipher on November 8, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Great author. Looking forward to it.
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