Tom Deitz,
Windmaster's Bane
(Avon, 1986)

What reader of contemporary fantasy hasn't hoped at one time or another -- if not almost constantly -- that the old stories are true and the gods, heroes and fantastic creatures of mythology are still waiting somewhere just out of view?

David Sullivan is one such person. Living in the rural environs of modern Georgia, he has the fortune, or misfortune, to have that wish come true.

Sullivan is the protagonist of a series of books by writer Tom Deitz. After avoiding them for years -- the covers were never a sufficient lure for me to pick them up and find read even the brief back-cover summary -- I finally brought home a battered copy of Windmaster's Bane, the first in the series.

(For the record, it was meeting Deitz online which prompted the purchase. Although we met in a forum completely unrelated to his writing, he seemed the sort of person who'd write books I'd like. I was right.)

Sullivan is a fairly typical teen-ager, if you discount the fact that he seems to disdain the usual teen idolatry of pop stars and TV sex-dramas that captivate most of his peers. If that's not shocking enough, Sullivan reads.

Amazon.comNot just any old book, either; Sullivan's friends generally find him absorbed by the world's ancient legends. Lately, he's been delving into the sagas and lore of Ireland.

Wishful fantasies aside, no one is more surprised than Sullivan when an accidental alignment of events gifts him with Second Sight and allows him a glimpse into the realms of Faerie. What's even more startling is that Tir-Nan-Og, the Land of the Ever Young, overlaps -- you guessed it -- rural Georgia.

The faeries aren't too keen to learn that a mortal can see their shenanigans. Soon, Sullivan finds himself drawn into the internal squabbles between the light, led by Nuada Silverhand, and the dark, in the guise of Ailill, a guest in Tir-Nan-Og from the darker realm of Annwyn.

Sullivan's friends, Alec and Liz, are similarly pulled into events, while his family pays the price for his perceived transgressions into the other world.

What follows is an engrossing tale as the young friends find themselves dealing with magic rings, riddles, changelings, malicious beasties and some surprising allies.

Sullivan is not the typical storybook hero, nor is he suddenly transformed into one the moment danger threatens. No, our lad makes mistakes, he flops in the mud and, once or twice, he even cries. Nor does he even sweep his would-be lady off her feet, for all her hints in that direction.

Windmaster's Bane is a very real-seeming story set in an almost-real world. I wish it had happened to me, and I look forward to following young Sullivans on the adventures ahead.

But first, I think I'll go make a rune-staff, just in case. Does anyone know where I can find a solid six-foot shaft of ash and a pair of beaten iron caps?

[ by Tom Knapp ]