Reviewer Praise for JUDGE OF AGES (and a free sample from the sequel)

Intelligent compliments and intelligent criticism about JUDGE OF AGES from Mr. Oka.

If there are two things Wright writes well, they are long action sequences, and humorous, intelligent dialogue. The Judge of Ages plays both of those strengths to the hilt. The first half of the book is a long action sequence, peppered with humorous, intelligent dialogue. The second half of the books is humorous, intelligent dialogue, peppered with action sequences. The action is fast, relentless, and a bit more graphic than in previous books…

Wright does an excellent job of switching between viewpoints during the melee to give readers the whole picture of the battle, and to keep the action going. The dialogue has room to spare for both mind-bending sci-fi speculations, any of which could be the basis of tale in it’s own right; and hilarious Texan irreverence and gallows humour. Wright’s flair for surprising but logical plot twists is also in full force here, and I lost count of how many times Montrose was outmaneuvered by or out-outmaneuvered his foes. Space opera this intelligently written is a wonderful thing.

And one of his two criticisms, with which I would happen to agree, had I only read as far was what has been published

Minor spoiler warning. Near the end of the book comes a scene of farewells to fond companions as moving as the departure from the Grey Havens in The Lord of the Rings, or rather, it should have been. The scene is too short. If I am reading aright, and we are truly seeing some of these characters for the last time, I needed more time to say goodbye to them. Menelaus needed more time to say goodbye to them. The scene as it stands is finely written, it almost made me cry*, I wanted it to make me cry, but alas, it ended too shortly, and with it, my catharsis.

At least one or two of those characters pop up in a sequel.

If it is any comfort, I just wrote the following scene with Mickey the Witch, to appear in VINDICATION OF MAN:

Mickey shook his head. “You don’t know yourself. You would never betray Rania, not ever. All our holy writings say so! Why, just in the ancient and uncorrupted text of The Lion, the Witch, and the Warlord is the story of how a man named Orpheus wanted you to release his wife from suspended animation, and return to the sunlight of the surface, and he sang of your own lost love, of Rania, so that tears flowed down your icy cheeks in your coffin. You agreed, but only on condition that he walk blindfolded from the buried tomb system, so that he could reveal the position of the secret postern door to no man. But when he did not hear the footstep of a woman behind him…”

Montrose slammed the heavy pewter beer stein to the wooden table top with a loud noise that interrupted Mickey. “Of course I am tempted,” snarled Montrose, wiping the foam from his mouth with the back of his wrist. “The Fox girl looks just like her, talks like her. Just to hear the sound of her voice, I would die. But I ain’t never been fooled by no clones, and she’s not the first what’s been thrown at me.”

Of course talk turned to women.

Mickey asked him earnestly about conversion, and giving up witchcraft, or else Trey the Sylph would not marry him. Montrose took a practical stance: “I am sure the hell-devils and hell-spooks you worship will understand, and if they don’t, to hell with them. Man should have a forgiving God as his boss. Otherwise life is too tough.”

“You don’t believe in God,” observed Mickey.

“Course I do! You can’t say God Damn You And God Damn the Horse You Rode in On and Who Rode Your Mother and Put Her Away Wet, Sated, and Preggers, no, not and really mean it, if’n you don’t believe in God. ‘Bsides, what would ladies do on Sundays, if they had no churching to do?”

“You think it’s real?”

Montrose was not sure what that meant, so he said, “Gen’rally, I take things as I find them,” and then he put his head under the table, looking for a spittoon. “What the plague? We in an era when no one chaws tobacco no more? God damn the horse their mother rode them in on. Or whatever I said.”

While Montrose had his head below the table, Mickey poured his shot glass of whiskery into Montrose’s, and drank his own beer unadulterated. “I cannot believe you chew tobacco while drinking. It’s gross.”

The answer floated up from beneath the table top. “The chaw kills the bad taste of the brew, and the brew kills the bad taste of the chaw.”

Montrose pulled his head back up into view. Since Montrose had just used one of the boots Mickey had kicked off under the table for as an impromptu spittoon, he thought it best to distract his drinking buddy. “So, brag to me, pard! Flap the lips! What’s so good about her, eh? What’s in her?”

Montrose turned off his perfect memory circuits, so that whatever part he did not care to recall of the rambling and saccharine adulation of a man in love that was sure to follow would fade thankfully from his mind.

Nonetheless, he later recollection was clear: Mickey might not realize himself, but Montrose could see the reason. Mickey looked an Trey as a creature from the long-ago vanished age of gold, an age of splendor, when the machines were obedient to men, and the children of men drifted where they would. Aside from rare acts of piracy, it had been an age without war, without cannibalism, without slavery, without concubinage, and without the constraint fear that one’s own talking dogs or other slave-beasts would lose their power of speech, revert to wolves, and rend their masters, a fear that made those masters arrogant and cruel. All these things formed the inescapable pattern for all the civilizations the Witches in nine centuries erected. Thus, for him, meeting Trey was like meeting a lady of Camelot before the treason of Guinevere, or a daughter of Atlas in the Western mists of mythical Atlantis ere the flood.

“But what the hell does she see in you? You are the rightly most uncomely man I done ever lay eyes on, and you’ve got the dumbest hat of all history. I know, I been through all history, and that hat is really the dumbest.”

Mickey’s jowls grew creased with stern indignation, the tall hat stiffened so that its point quivered, and the cartoon eyes above the hatbrim glared down. “To insult a Warlock’s headgear is to trifle with the wrath of Fortunato and Hades and dark, brooding Alberich! My millinery splendor is tall due to my pride of power, and this pointed cone distills astral and celestial essences directly into my Sahasrara which the vulgar call the crown chakra, the seventh primary node of spirit! The wefts and shades and poltergeists flinch and bow the knee when the shadow of this towering…”

“You should marry the girl just so you can get a proper Christian hat, and leave the shady polecats of wheverthepox well enough alone. I’d say a Stetson. She ain’t marrying you for your hat. I know. She ain’t blind in both eyes.”