The Door Into Fire

The Door Into Fire - Diane Duane [These notes were made in 1990:]. Not a Star Trek novel. This is a swords-and-sorcery tale, the first part of projected four-parter which appears to have been abandoned after Part 2 (presumably when Duane discovered she could sell ST).[2010 note: my cynicism was apparently unwarranted - I see there are sequels dating from the '90s] What makes it unusual is that the central relationship is unabashedly (and uncomplicatedly) homosexual. Herewiss, the sorcerer-warrior, has fire-powers he can't control; Freelorn is the dispossessed ruler of his country. Two other elements are introduced into the emotional landscape: a fire-creature (capable of taking any shape, and immortal) called Sunspark, and a rather enigmatic woman also with untapped powers. The latter, named (unpronounceably) Segnbora, is here basically to set up part 2, which is her story. The characters are well realized, particularly the two men. And tho' I don't care much one way or the other for the metaphysics of this fantasy-world - they are vaguely Zimmer Bradleyish - I thought they were handled reasonably clearly. There were two scenes that stood out for me. The first, near the beginning, was Herewiss casting an illusion spell in order to rescue Freelorn from a castle (Hmmm - what did I used to call those Starsky & Hutch episodes? Princess in the Castle?) In order to cast the spell, he has to dig into his memories of their relationship - funny and a little sentimental; lovely. The second, near the end: Herewiss confronts his ghosts, literally. A trip to the world of the dead, in the best Greek epic tradition, where he meets the brother he accidentally killed when they were messing around with swords as kids. This is tapping right into the archetypes, and Duane handles it well. This one goes into the permanent collection.