Present Tense

by Dave Duncan

Published by Avon Books (US)
U.S. 5.99
418 Pages
ISBN 0-380-78130-1

This fantasy novel is the second volume in the trilogy "The Great Game". The series follows the young Englishman Edward Exeter, who was wrongly accused of murder in the first volume, Past Imperative, and forced to flee to a parallel world linked to our own just as World War 1 begins. The reason for this was a prophecy in which Edward will kill the god of Death, Zath, in the parallel world.

In the parallel world, anyone who crosses over, called Strangers, are able to absorb "mana" from the natives and expend it as magic. This power, called Charisma, makes Edward very popular and almost superhuman, and he does not age while on the parallel world. But there are other "Strangers" that have been there for much longer and have gathered much greater powers than the newcomer Edward.

The beginning of this volume finds Edward hiding in a hospital, after being transferred back into the middle of a battle by those he thought were his friends. Most of the story tells, in flashback, of how this came to happen. He tells of how he goes much towards fulfilling some of the prophecy, in which he becomes the "Liberator".

The characters are the product of an age when England still had an Empire, as the First World War turns most of Europe into a battle field. Edward Exeter is a young man who has recentlycompleted a public school education, which taught him the tradition values of the British Empire.

The next volume in the series is called Future Indefinite, which should be available sometime during 1998.

Overall this was an good novel in an interesting and different series series. 7 out of 10.

P.F. 25th October 1997

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© Paul Farris 1997