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Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
Russian Science Fiction & Fantasy

A review of Witch's Age

   Young authors from Kiev, Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, have already proven themselves to be skillful masters of fantasy, whose new books never repeat the previous ones. Again, their new novel overrules all canons of a typical fantasy.

   The scene itself is quite distinctive - it seems no one has ever made West-Ukrainian mythology a fantasy entourage. No one has either portrayed the color of Galitzia, the area where three cultures - Slavic, Latin Catholic and Greek Byzantine - have been fantastically, but smoothly, mingled together. However, the story unfolds in the recognizable XX century and not in the distant Middle Ages, though it is the XX century of another, parallel world. This world mamages to preserve both the technology - cars, airplanes, nuclear missiles - and witches. And the Holy Inquisition, whose duty is to protect people from witches, because these witches are not people, unlike the Middle-Age witches we know. To be exact, they are a different stage (or branch) of evolution unknown and hostile to the mankind. Those, who remember the works of Strugatsky brothers might have an association with the Ludens. But these witches are pronouncedly destructive - the mankind is their primordial enemy. However, they do not seek the society of their kin. The traditional Christian devil does not have anything to do with it either; moreover, the Holy Inquisition, as it seems, has nothing in common with the official church. But who are, then, these witches? Why, having passed an initiation, they acquire an irresistible desire to harm people? Why has their number started growing so suddenly and crucially? The witches become stronger and more aggressive, their mean tricks are now accompanied by noisy noticeable effects. Maybe they neither know what they are doing, hiving as bees, in the premonition of the arrival of the queen? But according to the legend, the queen's arrival symbolizes the end of the world...

   The Inquisition that moved from detection of separate witches and investigation of their crimes to the attempts to prevent new, more and more terrible evil deeds, is not aware of all this. Who would have thought that a young, not initiated - that is not aggressive and still human - witch falls in love with the Grand Inquisitor thus breaking the predestined course of events?..

   What, if not love, can save the world on the edge of the Abyss? The world, where the witches whirl in the devilish round dance celebrating the coming of their Queen, and the last argument and salvation of the mankind is only metal-shiny stings of nuclear missiles. What, if not love, can make a man believe in something he has no right to believe in? What, if not love, can make a witch - having passed the full circle of initiation and felt her role and her power over the entire world - make her go back in the circle of time and become a human again? Just a Human...


October 02, 1997

Russian Science Fiction & Fantasy --> M. & S. Dyachenko