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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Burning Tower by Niven and Pournelle

Burning Tower by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. New York: Pocket Books, 2005. ISBN: 0-7434-1691-0

This book is the sequel to The Burning City (2000). As the authors themselves describe it in their Notes at the end of Burning Tower, “The assumption of this series has been that ancient legends are garbled accounts of true events that happened in a time when magic was still a major force. Magic is fueled by manna, and manna is a very nearly nonrenewable resource.”

These books seem to belong to the universe of The Magic Goes Away (1978), The Magic May Return (1981) and More Magic (1984). All of them are based on the premise that magic once existed and was real, but it got all used up, mainly by power-greedy magicians. The second and third Magic books are collections edited by Niven, as he allowed other writers to have a crack at this clever idea and its ramifications.

But back to Burning Tower and City. These books take place in the geographical region of California and the desert Southwest, some 14,000 years or so ago. Of the two, I enjoyed Burning Tower more, but you need to have read The Burning City in order to have any real chance of understanding what's going on. And even then, it's tricky. But definitely worth the effort. Definitely recommended.

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