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This sequel to Lessing's futuristic novel Mara and Dann continues the saga of Dann, the refugee boy prince of the Mahondi, who searched with his older sister Mara for habitable land on a planet Earth beset by a new ice age. Several characters from that novel reappear, including Griot, a soldier who served under Dann, but Mara has died in childbirth. Grief deafens General Dann to the pleas of those who believe he alone can save civilization from the warring chaos of displaced populations. Lessing's long literary career includes much science fiction (the Canopus in Argos series), but this dystopia, underscored by its reluctant hero's existential dilemma—why go on just to go on?—resembles a classical myth, albeit one with no gods to intervene. As Dann disastrously tries to assuage his grief with opium, loyal Griot raises an army and finds a repository of books that preserves the wisdom of lost civilizations. Less of an adventure story than its predecessor, this sequel requires patience through several repetitive passages devoted to Dann's refusal to act. But that is a small price to pay for Lessing's acute observations. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In Mara and Dann (1999), the orphaned brother and sister survive their perilous adventure as they slog across the devastated continent of Ifrik thousands of years in the future, and they finally separate knowing that their passion cannot be consummated. Now Dann is grief-stricken to learn that his sister has died in childbirth. A respected general, he has left his own demonic wife and child, but he meets up with Mara's child, Tamar, and loves her as his own, training her to take over as leader of his people. The intimate family connection, the "passionate shyness," is exquisitely rendered. Unfortunately, Tamar only arrives three-quarters of the way through the story. To get there, one must slog through endless generic journeys in a future world destroyed by drought, floods, ice, and mud, with armies of refugees fleeing war and famine. Of course, the message does connect with the dire warnings in today's disasters. But the drama is in the personal, not only Dann's family but also his bond with his loyal snow dog and his friendship with his army officer Griot. Clearly there is plenty more to come. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.