Envy of the Gods (Bridgeway Books, 2006) is the first in Andrea Savitch’s trilogy of fiction. Set in the medieval world of Raalek, the tale gives an account of power-hungry Duke Atan Ishtba whose recklessness could not be checked by any means until the arrival of beautiful and willful Raphela. In 316 pages, Andrea Savitch circumscribes the peak period of the lives of her two main characters with sensuality and power as her motifs.
Savitch’s work has the desirable quality needed for every work of fiction, a smooth and fluent narration. Her use of language is creative and there are no verbal barriers in the reader’s progress with the book. Letting the reader know in the first page that the story of the Duke is told on the first night each spring readily induces the ambience of folklore. The story of the young Duke’s craving for power and Raphela’s passion for conquering him hooks the reader from the first few chapters.
Then the unwieldiness of the novel’s plot starts hovering over the mind. Little description of the Castle Cordan, the characters, and the social world, the emptiness of events and their causal unrelatedness all render the tale incapable of a deeper impact. Accounts of punishment and subsequent compassion are highly incompatible with the outlines of characters. The author’s unending concern with Mahtso’s chain bothers. Before late, the interaction of characters assumes a mechanical air that seems to linger until the meeting of Raphela and Nabus at the end, a scene touching in its unaffectedness.
The transformation of Atan into a man from a beast and Raphela’s victory in standing by her love of knowledge give something of a plot to Savitch’s tale. The title stays unthought of. It is the Absence of Gods that needs to be dealt with. The story of Svaitch’s ‘legends of power’ is not over and in the coming ventures a convincing conclusion can be hoped for.