Flashback Friday is something I do here at Bookwraiths every once in a while; a time when I can post my thoughts about books that I’ve read in the past. With the hectic schedule of day-to-day life, there never seems enough time to give these old favorites the spotlight that they deserve, but with a day all to themselves, there is no reason I can’t revisit them.
Today, I’ll be taking a look back at a genre blender series from the past: Morgaine Cycle!
Genre: SciFi / Fantasy
Series: The Morgaine Cycle #1-4
Publisher: DAW (September 1, 2015)
Length: 817 pages
Author Info: Website
My Rating: 3 stars
This four volume series from C.J. Cherryh is an epic, dark fantasy/science fiction hybrid of the highest order. Begun in the 1970s (The first three volumes were published in 1976, 1978, and 1979.) and completed in 1988, the series certainly sees an evolution in the skill level of the author and a shift away from a lyrical fantasy voice to a more modern tone, but one thing which does not change from beginning to end is the beauty, intelligence, and excitement of this under appreciated genre blender.
The tale itself is about Morgaine: a mysterious, driven woman committed to a quest which takes her from world to world, as she seals ancient star gates. These gates believed to be relics of a lost era when the Qual Empire used the portals to travel across Space and Time. The Science Buereau of Morgaine’s home world coming to believe that at some point in the past an unknown person used the gates to warp the fabric of the universe, and thus these monuments to the past are too dangerous to continue to exist, which is why Morgaine must destroy them all!
Throughout the four books, Morgaine remains a fairly mysterious enigma. All information concerning her past, her motives, and her persona gained through her interactions with and the observations of her steadfast traveling companion Vayne. This honor bound warrior never leaving Morgaine’s side, even when a normal person would have grown weary of the rather thankless yet dangerous mission they are on. The only thing holding these two platonic companions together Vayne’s strict adherence to a code of honor.
Like all of Cherryh’s books, The Morgaine Cycle is filled with intriguing characters, an interesting plot, and dangerous excitement. The fact that Morgaine is a strong, female protagonist whose companion and helper is a man probably made these stories somewhat progressive and novel for the time period, but that really isn’t the focus of the tales told her, just an added flavor for those who care about such things.
The books aren’t perfect though, and I’d probably center my criticism around the rather formulaic installments of each book and the lack of resolution to any of the plot threads. Quite honestly, every world our two companions travel to seems very similar to the last in technology level, societal structure, and general attitude, resulting in a plot which is nearly the same as the last. How it is possible for so many worlds to resemble one another and for each of them to react to Morgaine’s quest in almost the exact same manner isn’t ever answered very well by Cherryh. And as for an ending to Morgaine’s quest, the author does not even touch upon it, deciding intend for a conclusion to book four which suggests only an eternal journey from portal to portal for our pair.
Whatever the issues I had with the novels overall, I did find all of them to be exciting, page-turning affairs which left me craving more. And I truly believe other readers would feel the same if they’d only give them a try.