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S. Tescione (Seattle, WA United States)
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Aradia: Gospel of Witches
Aradia: Gospel of Witches
by Charles Godfrey Leland
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.79
17 used & new from CDN$ 2.20

5.0 out of 5 stars The Origins of Modern Witchcraft, Nov. 11 2001
This book, written in the late 1800's, is the answer to those in the Craft who believe all modern witchcraft stems from Gerald Gardener. It is clear from this book that although Doreen Valiente is credited with the Charge of the Goddess and other staples of modern witchcraft, these credos had their origins in Strega, and Strega is witchcraft that has fragments that have survived from Etruscan times. Strega survived the Inquisition. (See "Night Battles.")
True, modern witchcraft has a strong connection to Gardener, Valiente, Crowley, Fortune and the Golden Dawn, which has its roots in Masonic practices. Gardnerian witchcraft is a hybrid religious practice, and even Gerald Gardener never made any claims to the contrary.
The newer version, edited by an Itallian folklorist, claims that the original Italian-English translation misinterprets some idioms and that may be true. In order to keep the meter and rhyme of the verse, some poetic license had to have been taken, and in looking at the Italian, I think that this is probable. I have not yet read the newer version, but look forward to doing so for the editorial comments. This book is a must for any British traditionalist.

The Veiled Web
The Veiled Web
by Catherine Asaro
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A little uneven, Nov. 11 2001
Catherine Asaro's ability to weave science with fiction remains unequaled. The writing is supurb, and I like they way, particularly with the world situation as it is, that she integrates principles of Islam into the plot. I lived in Sicily and have been to Taoromina, and it is exactly as she describes it.
The problem is the plot. No one would believe that the heroine got married and spent that long as a virgin. No one would believe that her newly-wedded husband would trot off to another North African country and leave his wife with a group of strangers with whom she cannot communicate, flying in periodically on his private jet--staying the night, and the happy couple do not engage in marital relations--for weeks. Very little happened in the middle of the book. The beginning is supurb. The action at the end and the kidnapping scenarios are great, but the entire middle is flat, except with Lucia's involvement with the computer, which is wonderful. The other rich descriptions (from a ballet fan) are the dance scenes, and the first chapter of the book is especially effective.
Some reviews here state that this is more a romance novel than science fiction. I can't agree. It's too flat and too slow. The only element that the book would need is more action throughout. The Skolian novels are much better examples of what Asaro can do with plot.
Susan

Warrior's Song
Warrior's Song
by Catherine Coulter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.50
86 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars A Bad Plot is Still a Bad Plot, July 16 2001
I like Catherine Coulter novels. True, they're not always historically accurate, but romance readers are used to some lack of fact in most works of this genre. However, the plot line itself is so inane that most readers will have difficulty in suspending belief. This book is a rewrite of a much earlier work. I think Ms. Coulter should have abandoned ship on this project.
Our heroine is raised as a squire--a nice touch if you like the feminist, athletic bit. However, she has difficulty in grasping the most basic concepts, so protraying her as remotely intelligent or faintly likable is an exercise in futility. I liked the character of Mary, since she is the only person in the novel that displays a lick of common sense.
The lead female is so obsessively male about everything she does that this plot line is stale long before the reader has reached the halfway point in the novel. You simply want to scream "Enough already." And so the reader moves from what was at least a coherent plot to the Crusades in the blink of an eye. The husband, who started the novel as a likable character, becomes increasingly authoritarian as the plot (which should thicken and doesn't), proceeds.
A rapist, introduced earlier in the novel, is portrayed sypathetically, an error in judgement on the author's part, as well as a display of a complete lack of taste and sense. I found it offensive. The rape scene itself, which is not necessary, is too wooden and phony.
I do hope Ms. Coulter gives up on the idea of revitalizing these weak earlier novels and writes fresh material with stronger plot lines, adding more depth and some intelligence to both the characters and the plot.

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