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Ring of Lightning (Dance of the Rings) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1997

4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Dance of the Rings Series

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Pandemic by Sonia Shah
"Beacon 23"
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more

Editorial Reviews


The next installment in the "entertaining" series that will "appeal to fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series." --Science Fiction Chronicle

"Dangerous intrigues arise from within and without, along with enough action spicing the mix and enough secrets yet to be revealed, that the next book in the series can't come soon enough." --Adventures of Sword and Sorcery

"Jane S. Fancher, in her first fantasy novel, has created a powerful dynasty...The reader is totally captured in the web of the tale...Dance of the Rings promises to be an enduring addition to the fantasy field." --Affaire de Coeur

From the Author

It never fails to amaze me what cover copy publishers think will sell a book. They work very hard on that back cover copy, and I respect them and appreciate their efforts. But the fact is...what I wrote wasn't the story of Darius setting off to found Rhomatum. I didn't even write a story about some major clash between Rhomatum and Mauritum. If you're looking for ultimate good against ultimate evil in a Ragnarok-style battle...it ain't happenin' here.
    I wrote a book about three brothers who happen to be in a position of power. Yes, the power struggle with Anheliaa is a major part of the plot, but the story lies in the brothers and the various ways in which good men (and women) can, with no malice aforethought, find themselves at swords' point (sometimes literally) without ever really realizing how they got there.
   I come from a big family: four brothers and one sister. I'm next to the youngest. Sibling dynamics is an endless source of fascination to me. As I've gotten older, I've realized how easy it is, when we get together, to slip back into those roles we had as kids.
    No one, but no one, knows your "buttons" like a sib!
    As a child, I also knew very different parents than my oldest sibs did. Mom and Dad as newly weds, the war years, all those things made them very different from a middle class married couple whose lives were beginning to diverge in major ways.  Such differences affect how you see the world and your parents...and I've tried to capture some of that in these books.
    I don't set out, ever, to make a specific point. I begin with a premise, a few "givens" about the characters and let them develop in their own way. I ask the characters why, I don't tell them what.
    The Rhomandi brothers were like that. I thought at first that Khyel was the eldest; the moment he came on stage, I knew that was wrong. He was definitely younger than Deymorin. And then...I asked him why. That's when the truth about their father began to come out.
    That's when the story truly took on a life of it's own.
    And people ask me why I write....

Product Details

  • Series: Dance of the Rings (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: DAW (July 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886776538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886776534
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,716,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

On October 24, 1988 in Oklahoma City, OK, at a suggestion from SF author C.J. Cherryh, I began writing. I kept writing because two hours after starting, I had to find out what happened. A little over a year later, I was the startled owner of a three book contract based on the rough draft of my first novel.

I've been writing ever since.

What appeals to me about writing in general is the constant challenge. I'm a generalist and writing is the one thing that will happily use every bit of information and experience you have to put into it. It's constant problem solving, method acting and soul-searching all rolled up into one 24/7 job.

What I love about writing SF/F is...everything. I love the optimism of believing there is a future for humanity. I love the challenge of imagining what that future might be. But most of all, I love the thrill of exploring that future with the interesting and courageous people I find living in it.

But SF/F has another, less obvious, appeal: the ability to write with a social conscience without preaching. It lets writers create worlds in which they can shed light on aspects of current society in a less charged environment. Its a way to help raise awareness without pointing fingers at anyone.

Yes, I have same gender relationships. Yes, I have gender-identification-challenged characters. Yes, sex and obsessive attraction are definitely issues in my books, as are power and its use and abuse. But the genre's one-step-removed perspective also lets me explore the human ramifications of a too-effective educational system (be careful what you wish for), or the curious problems of being siblings and growing up with the kind of misconceptions only close association can create, or what it means to a culture to lose an entire generation's knowledge.

Can you do this in contemporary fiction? Absolutely. But SF/F lets you add extreme ramifications...like what if those sibling misconceptions were suddenly stripped away with the ability to know exactly what those sibs were thinking? What if the educational system were so effective, the subsequent misinformation threatened the very fabric of the universe itself?

In my contemporary vampire fantasy...I hesitate to call it urban fantasy, because in all honesty, it hasn't the right tropes...I'm enjoying exploring the perspective of virtual immortality and what might make life worth living after three thousand years.

And with SF/F you can do all this while have a rip-roaring adventure! What more can a writer ask for?

My formal educational background is in Math, Physics, Astrophysics and Anthropology. I've raised and trained horses, flown planes, and at 51, took up figure skating. I love building things, from costumes to computers, model ships to koi ponds. I play a little guitar, some piano and like to sing.

I actually got started in the publishing world doing art. I worked on WaRP Graphics' Elfquest, helping with inking on the last few volumes of the original black and white, also helping with the colors in the original color volumes. After that, I moved on to my own project, an adaptation of C.J. Cherryh's first novel, Gate of Ivrel.

These days, after many years away from art, I find myself returning to it to do covers for my newest venture, Closed Circle Publications. A couple of years ago, C.J., Lynn Abbey and I decided to join the ebook movement and bring out both our orphaned backlist and some new works that weren't quite what NY was looking for but which our loyal readers were demanding.

I absolutely love hearing from my readers. My blog should echo here, but feel free to join us at:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rhomatum/Mauritum seems like its going to be a fascinating world. The history of the two cities, the difference in philosophies of the Rings, the mysterious other races-- it's a good set-up. The exploration of the world happens through the eyes of the three brothers of the Rhomatum ruling family, driven by their conflicts with each other and with their Aunt (the villain of the piece).
The book was a slow start, at least in part because the author seemed determined to get all the elements of the world in at once. While the interaction between the brothers is well-written and fresh, some of the plot points are rather hackneyed and the motivations of the other characters don't seem nearly as considered or complex.
Despite the flaws, the book has a lot of potential, so really call it a 3+. I plan on reading the next.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read all three books and they have been among the best I have read. But whether or not you will find it just as good depends on what you're looking for. For those of you looking for a quick, light, and amusing read, these books might not be what you're looking for. The plots in this story are extremely intricate, and the characters even more so. This isn't to say that the plots develop slowly. Although they are intricate, they aren't inappropriately long or drawn out. Fancher paces the changes in the story perfectly - she waits long enough to allow anticipation to build up, but doesn't wait too long. Even so, someone who is looking for a quick and dirty read may very well loose patience with these books. And these books are definitely not recommended for those who like simplistic, black and white characters and plots.

But for those of you looking for a dense and profound read - one that will draw you in and absorb you completely - then the Dance of the Rings series is highly recommended for you. The depth of the characters in the story is astounding, and their personalities are so unique and different from one another that it is hard to believe that they were created by the same author. This is no fairly tale story with clear boundaries between good and evil either - Fancher seems to revel in presenting complexities and ambiguities, and these weave into the story in interesting and unexpected ways. The world Fancher presents is well illustrated, but she won't bore you with the overly-detailed political intrigues of an unfamiliar fictional world like some fantasy authors do. She puts just as much time into developing the personal lives of the characters, which many readers - like myself - find more interesting.
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By Furio on February 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
(I am not a native speaker, please overlook my style)

If you survive boredom, this book will cause you much anger.

The plot is good, an intricated dynastic struggle set in a strange Renaissance-like world where guns and a sort of magical electricity coexist with a rather primitive economy based on agriculture and commerce. As a matter of fact the setting is one of the main assets of this book, especially for readers who like long complex stories. Many realistic details are given about an economy which counterposes educated and extremely selfish and short sighted merchants, living in the big cities and matter of fact, loyal farmers.

All the main characters, not only the three brothers, are well rounded and interesting, even if I feel like complaining about their being -just a trifle too- much bigger than life: the Rhomandi brothers quarrel like teenagers and their aunt is an old unbearable harpy they should have learnt to avoid since childhood: no sensible person, having enough wealth as they have, would be willing to endure her.

If the development of characters is a little flawed, a problem shared by many fantasy authors who seem incapable to develop an entertaining story without exaggerating and one rather easy to overlook, Ms Fancher achieves her worst with her writing.

Many pages are well written, fast, thrilling or hilarious: the author clearly knows her job. Unfortunately she decided her volumes had to find a second use as bricks: of the 560 pages, at least 200 could have been cut with no prejudice for the quality of her work.

Have you ever tried to pour tap water into your favourite drink, let's say a costly french wine? Ms Fancher did exactly this. Enjoy...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first paragraph of this book is a forewarning that history is a recording of two steps away from the facts through a narrow perspective. And wow does this book throw bunch of perspectives into your face. Okay, maybe just three, and then four by the end, but I have never read a book where you really get into the eyes and mind of the focal characters. Most 3rd person narrations skims the ego and id of the various characters but in Ring of Lightning you are privy to their thoughts, angsts, anger, helplessness, desperations, uncertainties, suspicions, and deepest regrets. The story is of three brothers who are political heirs to a powerful city and its satellites. The two eldest, Deymorin and Mikhyel, are estranged while both loving the youngest brother, Nikaenor, to the point of suffocation.
The story starts out told from the perspectives of Deymorin who view Mikhyel as prudish, priggish, and puppet of their great aunt, the powerful "ringmaster" whom the city depends upon to control the "leys", a source of energy aka oil/electricity. Mikhyel has essentially raised Nikaenor since their parent?s death. Both Deymorin and Mikhyel can't see Nikaenor beyond as a child and treats him so despite his protest. Nikaenor loves both Deymorin and Mikhyel and tries to be peacemaker between them, desperate for a "family." When their great aunt decides that none of the brothers would make adequate "ringmasters" she takes a different course of action and thus setting into motion of point of no return for the brothers; either they work together or be permanently splintered from one another. We are then allowed into Mikhyel's perspectives which are devastating and sad. Ring of Lightning is essentially a character study of all three brothers and their relationship to one another.
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