Andrea Savitch,
Envy of the Gods #1:
If the Reward were Right

(Bridgeway, 2006)

A new entry in the science fiction/fantasy field is a trilogy, Envy of the Gods, by Andrea Savitch. The first book, If the Reward were Right, introduces the characters and the world of Raalek.

Raalek teeters on the edge of change. An awakening is underway in spite of a drift toward the comfortable ways of the past. Two people with vision will start the ball rolling. One is Duke Atan, with a land-acquisition glint in his eye, and the other is Raphela, with a duke-acquisition glint in hers. Her real passion is for changing the world through literacy for all. A few applecarts will be overturned, a few valuable friends will be acquired and more than a few enemies will be dispatched. It's an action-driven start for a trilogy with a fine pair of enlightened protagonists to lead the way.

I liked the premise that education for all ages and all abilities would hasten progress and indirectly affect invention, conquest, settlement and more. Many readers will respond to such altruism. It balanced for me the episodes of cruelty that I found unsettling.

Savitch's strengths are in her portrayals of friendship and loyalty. These I found attractive and worthy of notice. The story, however, is like a cake made without butter and sugar. Key ingredients are in short supply. Good fantasy and science fiction offer the reader challenges, insights and drama. This book lacked character-revealing dialogue, suspense and humor. No moral or higher truths are uncovered.

Two more books follow. What trials and tribulations, victories, and advances lie ahead? It will be interesting to see how the saga continues.

by Jean Marchand
6 May 2006

Buy it from