Friday, May 08, 2009
Friday's Forgotten Books: Teot's War
“Heat beat down on my shoulders, my face cloth. My armor dragged at the riding sores underneath. Little sparkles danced behind my eyelids, and the strains in my joints were cramping to knots in the muscles. It had been a long ride. A grating call made my shoulders twitch. The carrion crows, who glided after us day after day, were waiting.”
Thus begins Teot’s War by Heather Gladney, published in 1987 by Ace Fantasy. It was followed by a sequel, Blood Storm, in 1989, although I understand the two were originally written as a single book and were broken up at the publisher’s behest. The first part, Teot’s War is one of my favorite heroic fantasy novels, and by virtue of its stellar prose owns a rare place on my inspirational shelf. This is the shelf I select from when I want to read some truly fine and fantastic prose as an inspiration to my own attempts to construct beautiful language.
Teot is the last name of the main character of the book, Naga Teot. Naga is a desert warrior, known sometimes as “Dance of Knives.” He carries twin short swords called scaddas and uses them with the grace of ballet.
Teot’s War creates a fully realized world that combines elements of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Glen Cook’s Dread Empire series, the Hyborian World of Robert E. Howard, and the real world of Earth’s Bedouin tribes. It contains a delightful and realistic created language. But the best element is the superb writing--“The blades hung tight a moment, swung free in a spray of red with a gasping sound”--combined with a wonderful attention to the details of the world’s politics and art.
Teot’s War is not only something of a forgotten book, although it has a strong fan base, but Heather Gladney is also a bit of a forgotten writer for many fantasy readers. That’s almost to be expected when you’ve only published two novels, both in the 1980s. For years there have been hints of a third book in the saga. So far nothing has seen print, although I’ve found out from Ms. Gladney’s website that she has actually submitted sequels to big publishers and had them rejected. It sounds to me like she should consider going with a smaller publisher; I would certainly be one person who would buy the book. I know Gladney has produced some short stories but I and many of her other fans would love to see the third book in her series. In my experience, few writers had such an auspicious start to their careers. I’d love to see her ignite a new surge in that career. Whatever it takes.
See Patti Abbott's blog for more Forgotten Book Friday.