From Publishers Weekly
As the first stand-alone one-volume epic fantasy by the popular Eddings team (whose series include The Belgariad; The Malloreon and The Elenium), this hefty saga about Good trouncing Evil plumps an engaging young reprobate hero into the arms of aDliterallyDdivine feline heroine. A professional thief and occasional murderer, Althalus accepts a commission to steal a supernatural tome known as the Book. When he arrives at the mysterious House at the End of the World, a lissome black cat with emerald eyes turns out to be the fertility goddess Dweia. Together they enlist a Mission Improbable team to out-sorcel the assorted villains marshaled by the sorcerer Ghend, who is bent on converting this medieval-like world from the worship of Dweia's good god-brother, Deiwos, to awful servitude under their wicked sibling Daeva. Plenty of derring-do spices up the first two-thirds of this jolly romp, and some zingy flashes of wit home in neatly on stuffy human institutions like overorganized religion and landed aristocracies. Unfortunately, the Eddingses can't resist a lengthy time-traveling reprise, which drags the story down into so-so conventionality. Though the Eddingses' multitudinous fans will likely feel right at home here in their safely magical realm of good-natured fun, this circle of would-be faerie has been trodden so often that here it yields very little deep-rooted literary greenery to munch on or to savor, still less to ruminate upon.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The Eddings, whose fantasies usually sprawl for several volumes, had to cram to get their latest adventure into a mere 700 pages (768 in galley form). The first section, covering more than 2,000 years, sets up the premise: a talented thief, Althalus, is hired to steal the Book from the House at the End of the World. Althalus, who doesn't know a book when he sees one, gamely enters the house, is trapped there by a talking cat, and remains for 2,500 years, learning to harness the Book's powers. The talking cat, Emmy, is in fact Dweia, one of three sibling gods who rule the world. Her brothers, Dewois (the creator) and Daeva (the destroyer), are choosing up sides and preparing for battle. Dweia enlists Althalus' aid to obtain a knife covered with runes that can be read only by those companions chosen to join the fight on the side of good. Althalus, traveling with Dewois as the cat Emmy, seeks and enlists the help of several unlikely accomplices, including a young boy, a priest, a witch, a warrior, and a princess. Once the companions are gathered, the Eddings hit their stride, and the story takes off. The interactions between characters, straightforward plotting, and doses of wry humor keep the tale humming. Judging by the popularity of their other books, this is a sure purchase for fantasy collections. Candace SmithCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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