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Child of An Ancient City Mass Market Paperback – April 15, 1999
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Nonetheless, this is actually an interesting theme and was executed effectively by Williams and Hoffman. I'd still recommend it, especially as it could be read in a single sitting, and won't take too much or your precious time.
The most important story in the piece tells of a group of travelers who have been besieged by a vampire during the last leg of their dangerous journey. Picked off one by one, they find that the only way to keep the vampire at by is to tell stories at night for his entertainment. So follows a set of tales reminiscent of the 1001 Nights, with a decidedly grim bent.
While the story was overall fine, it felt like it went on rather long, and the many stories-within-stories was frustrating. It seemed an artistic choice, rather than an effort to write a good, enjoyable story. So I don't see myself reading again, but I could see myself pointing readers to this tale.
As confusing as that sounds it wasn't a confusing read. I like the arabian setting and it was funny at times but nothing really impressed me about it, except for one of the stories told within the main story.
I think it would be more impressive for someone just getting into fantasy as opposed to a veteran. Though as the last reviewer mentioned it may not correctly represent Williams' 'normal' style of writing.
I'm an absolutely _huge_ fan of Tad Williams. I've read everything out there from Talechaser's Song to Mountain of Black Glass (and read MST three times). I've read both of his shorter works: Child of an Ancient City and Caliban's Hour. In reading Child, I found the prose weaker than what I was accustomed to with Tad: perhaps this was due to the condensed nature or perhaps it was that much of the text was actually written by Nina? I'm undecided. On the whole I enjoyed it more than Caliban's Hour. I would recommend this book to fans of Tad but not to the uninitiated.
* POSITIVE ELEMENTS: Self-sacrifice plays a large role in the book. When one of the men is seriously wounded in a fall, the others will not leave him, though it will slow their flight from the monster. At the end of the story, though the monster is getting ready to kill him, one of the protagonists cries for the beast's neverending lonliness.
* SPIRITUAL CONTENT: The majority of the characters are Muslim and constantly offer praise to Allah. Two of the characters claim to be Christian, but flee their faith because the Church won't allow them to marry. They are relatives. The main character speaks of Muslims preaching in front of Christian churches and converting many of them to the "true faith." This is somewhat disconcerting from a Christian perspective, as this book is obviously written on a grade school level and may affect young minds.
* SEXUAL CONTENT: .The book doesn't have any sexual content, per say, though the main character refers to the act by a crude term. Another character, while telling a story, mentions that he, as a young man, was following a girl who had promised sexual activity before disaster strikes. Two relatives marry, leaving their homeland and, presumably, their Christian faith to do so. One of the illustrations shows an Arabian woman in revealing attire.
* VIOLENT CONTENT: People are killed in a number of ways. One man is bludgeoned in the head, another's throat ripped out. Blood is shown to be virtually non-existent on corpses, as the creature that is stalking them feeds on it.
* CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE: One word. One man uses the phrase, "Am I a Christian or a Jew?" as a swear phrase.
* DRUG AND ALCOHOL CONTENT: The story is being told at a celebration where many of the characters are drunk from too much wine. At one point, a servant drops (and destroys) a barrel of wine.
* OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS: The book leaves one loose end. The main character mentions, in a story that he tells, that he regrets never having seen what was in a package that he delivered to a wealthy woman in his youth. We never find out what this item is. Also, the resolution seems a bit forced. The villain's story is predictable, at best.
Another thing to take into consideration is that this book deals with rather mature subject matter, considering its reading level. I'd say that a sixth grader would be able to read it with full comprehension. The violence and religious viewpoint should be enough to give Christian parents pause.
* CONCLUSION: For an adult, a decent, somewhat unfulfilling read. Not for the kids, though.