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Merro Tree (Del Rey Discovery) Mass Market Paperback – August 30, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

When Katie Waitman's agent sent me this manuscript, he told me that I had to make this book the Del Rey Discovery of the Year. He also told me that the book included a same sex love affair with a snake. Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback. But I read the manuscript, and I was taken with two things: 1) that snake affair wasn't exactly the way the agent described it!!! And 2) this was one of the absolute best-written first novels I had read in many, many years. I had to buy it. I still love it. I even like the snake!
                        --Shelly Shapiro, Executive Editor

From the Inside Flap

In the far reaches of our galaxy, the artist will face the ultimate censorship.

Mikk of Vyzania, the galaxy's greatest performance master, commanded stages on all the myriad worlds. His sublime, ethereal performances were unforgettable, drawing on the most treasured traditions of every culture, every people, throughout inhabited space. His crowning achievement, and his obsession: the Somalite song dance, an art form that transcends both song and movement to become something greater and more spectacular . . . almost divine.

When tragic events caused performance of the song dance to be proscribed, Mikk was devastated . . . until his strong sense of justice forced him to defy the ban. His trial will be the most sensational in the recent history of the galaxy; the sentence he faces is death.

Now the greatest performance master must hope to become the greatest escape artist. Somehow Mikk must break the stranglehold of censorship and change the law . . . or die trying!

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Product Details

  • Series: Del Rey Discovery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 437 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (August 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345414365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345414366
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 4.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Lindsay on December 5, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This work is simply marvelous. I intended to read it for one hour last night, but instead stayed up almost the whole night, making me a bit of wreck today, but it was quite worth it. Thank you Ms. Waitman!
Addressing a couple of comments others reviewers made. The only person I saw that disliked the book complains that its sci fi is not complete, that it is more fantasy than sci fi. Well, shucks, mate, if the story is incredible and the characters are deeper than deep, I don't really care if we aren't subjected to long treatises of speculative science. I like hard sci fi, but to castigate the book for *not* being hard sci fi is like castigating classical music because it isn't jazz. And anyway, I don't agree with the criticism, the sci fi is more anthropological, a la LeGuin, with completely believable worlds and races.
Someone else asks to *please* tell us what other books touched us like this one, other than Dune. Here is my little list, in no particular order: Songmaster (Card), Ender's Game (Card), Kindred (Butler), Stranger in a Strange Land (Heinlein), The Dispossessed (LeGuin), Beggars in Spain (Kress), The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien), Childhood's End (Arthur C. Clarke), The Mote in God's Eye (Larry Niven)
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I guess I come at whatever I read from a different angle, because I'm an English major. At one level, I loved _The_Merro_Tree_ because it's a good story. It's complex, but easy to follow. The attention to detail is amazing, but it doesn't slow down the plot.
At another level, Waitman's done something very special, beyond just a good story, here. One of my lit teachers refers to it as the balance of profit and prophet: storytelling and preaching. She's managed to create a balance where preaching doesn't interfere with storytelling--but if you're looking for a message, you'll find one, and if even if you analyze literature as well as read it, you won't find anything to complain about.
This is one of the best books I've ever read, hands down. And the others are _Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land_, _The_Summer_Queen_, and _Nineteen_Eight-Four_, if that means anything to you.
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i read all the reviews about this book and i decided to add mine because nobody seems to catch what in my opinion is the point of this novel.

this work has undoubtedly a sf background: alien worlds and races, spaceships, etc.

it deals with important issues such as the value of art, censorship, the tendency of people to create sort of dictatorial institutions they must afterwards fight against, same sex and interracial relationships.

still one has to admit this is not really pure sf, because ms waitman seems to have decided to use such a (interesting and detailed) background to express her views on some topics. she manages to do it with little inconsistencies and very few slow pages, which is remarkable for a first novel.

this is a bildungsroman (sorry, i do not know the english word) such as goethe's but it is not half as boring or selfindulgent: ms waitman writing might not be spotless but the plot structure is complex, intriguing and achieves a lot of tension.

what one would not expect is that this novel is basically an enthralling if a little exotic love story: the two main characters share a growing, developing, intimate affection depicted in a simple but moving way. one of them is humanoid, the other a sort of giant snake, both are males (and the author is not, one should remember) but disbelief is easily suspended and ms waitman manages to give us a very effective idea of their PHYSICAL desire for each other too. the only point i feel i have to complain about is the idea of both being basically heterosexuals who share love out of a kind of predestination. i found this rather unbelievable; but this is sf, so i imagine her idea is legitimate.
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The Merro Tree is quite possibly my all time favorite book, which is saying something because I'm a ridiculous bibliophile who can't get enough of reading.

First of all, the characters are wonderful. She's created an intergalactic community with all sorts of alien life forms, all with their own individual cultures, habits and entertainments. Mikk, the hero of our tale, is a bumbling young man who loves the arts and wants to be an entertainer. Unfortunately the reason he's bumbling comes from a trauma in his past that he has to overcome as he trains under the auspices of one of the most talented men in the galaxies - Hudd Marroc, the most famous of the Performance Masters. A Performance Master has to be able to master all sorts of entertainments and skills from all over the galaxies. They are not jacks of all trades, they are the best of the best, the stunningly talented crème de la crème.

The story of Mikk's training is a glimpse into his past, interspersed with glimpses into his present where he is in jail. For what? Well that's what you find out as you read the book. Normally I hate books that go back and forth between past and present, but Katie Waitman does it so well that I didn't mind at all. I devoured this book the first time I read it and now I constantly re-read it, every time finding it just as wonderful, loving the way she shows how the arts and freedom of expression effect everyone, admiring her impeccable writing and tearing up over the wonderful relationship between Mikk and Thissiz.

If the zombie apocalypse happened and I had to pack a bag to go on the run, this book would be in it.

This is my #1 all time recommended book, although I never let anyone borrow my copy now that it's out of print. I refuse to risk not getting it back. I highly recommend getting your own - and don't let anyone take it away from you ever!
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