Opening a new fantasy trilogy from Hugo award winner Resnick, this novel offers an adventure through space and time as Eddie Raven tries to outrun the dark forces pursuing him.
Eddie Raven isn't quite sure what's happening to himand he's in a race to find out before it kills him.
His adventures begin with a shooting in a very strange shop in Manhattanbut soon he finds himself the owner of a very familiar bar in Casablanca. By the time he adjusts to that reality, he's suddenly become one of several undersized people helping a young woman search for a wizard. And after confronting the wizard, he somehow finds himself in Camelot.
But as he rushes to solve the mystery of his many appearances, a larger threat looms. Because someone or something is stalking him through time and space with deadly intent....
About the Author
Mike Resnick has won awards in the USA, Spain, France, Japan, Croatia, Poland and China. He is the author of 76 novels and 280 short stories, and is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short science fiction, and is 4th on the all-time list when novels are added.
Read an Excerpt
What am I doing here? thought Eddie Raven. I could be watching the ballgame, or losing less money at Belmont Park than this afternoon is gonna cost me.
Then he looked at the lovely girl holding on to his arm as she inspected every window of every shop up and down Fifth Avenue, and he remembered.
"Oh, isn't that a gorgeous hat?" said Lisa, pointing to a window.
"Do women still wear hats?" asked Eddie.
"Of course we do!"
"I've never seen you wear one," he noted.
"I haven't found the right one," she answered.
"And you've been looking for how many years?" asked Eddie with a smile.
She made a face at him and led him to the next store on the block. And the next after that. And after that.
"You ready to eat?" asked Eddie.
"It's only midafternoon," replied Lisa, taking his arm and leading him across the street. "If you're tired of looking at shops, you can look at ladies' legs while I window-shop."
"That day is gone forever, alas," replied Eddie.
She frowned. "What are you talking about?"
He looked up the sidewalk. "Women don't wear skirts anymore," he said. "I see twenty-no, make that twenty-one-walking toward us. Nineteen are wearing slacks, and one of the other two has got to be a great-grandmother."
Lisa chuckled. "Slacks are comfortable," she said. "And comforting."
He looked puzzled. "Comforting?"
"It's comforting to know that dirty old men aren't trying to look up your skirt when you're sitting in the subway," she answered.
Eddie shrugged. "Never occurred to me."
"It wouldn't," she said, then stopped suddenly and peered into a window. "Isn't that the loveliest sweater?"
"It's ninety degrees," he said.
"It's not ninety year around."
"If you want it, let's go in and buy it," said Eddie.
"If I don't find something better," said Lisa, "I just may do that."
"Right," said Eddie grimly. "There are only nine hundred more stores on Fifth Avenue. Then we can hit Sixth, and then Broadway, and then-"
"Oh, stop complaining," she said. "It's a beautiful day. Why not try to enjoy it?"
"You've got a point," he admitted.
They walked another block, and as they were crossing the street they looked off to their left at a movie theater marquee.
"Another film aimed at teens who'll never graduate from high school," he said.
"When I was a little girl," said Lisa, "the local theater had a special show for kids every Saturday afternoon." She smiled wistfully. "I can't tell you how many times I saw The Wizard of Oz. I knew every word, every note of every song." She smiled wistfully. "I could even do some of Ray Bolger's dances."
"With me it was Casablanca," replied Eddie. "A man with no country, no past-at least none he's willing to talk about-and no woman, takes on the Nazis in his own way and wins a limited war that no one will ever know about. I must have seen it on television a hundred times before I bought a video player-and of course it was the first DVD I bought." He sighed deeply. "Hard to believe they made it seventy-five years ago."
"Why don't they make films like that anymore?" asked Lisa.
"Beats me. The moviemakers have dumbed down just like the audiences have. They think that bigger is better." He paused, searching for the right word. "Hell, bigger is just more. Take that film," he said, nodding his head toward the theater. "One corpse was enough for Sam Spade, but if that's a mystery or an action-adventure, it's probably got five hundred of them."
"Or five hundred aliens," she agreed.
"Or five hundred nudes," he concluded. "I wonder how one of those teenage protagonists would have fared in Casablanca?"
"Or even against the Wicked Witch of the West," she added with a sad smile.
"Welcome to the mature world of today," he said.
She made a face, he grimaced, and they began looking into shop windows again.
Suddenly Lisa came to a stop.
"What is it?" asked Raven.
"Across the street," she said. "Look!"
He turned and looked to his left. "Bunch of shops," he said without much enthusiasm.
"I've never seen that one before," said Lisa.
"It's just another clothing store," said Raven in bored tones. "Clearly that's exactly what Fifth Avenue was lacking."
"No!" said Lisa, pointing. "Right there! It's a fortune-teller!"
Raven looked where she indicated. "Fifty bucks for a reading," he said, frowning. "You can get it for free just by reading the horoscope column in the paper."
"Oh, come on, Eddie!" she said, grasping his hand and starting to pull on it. "I haven't been to a fortune-teller since my dad took me to a carnival when I was eight years old."
"And I'll bet he said you'd grow up to be prettier than Marilyn Monroe and smarter than Albert Einstein." Well, he was half right, anyway, added Raven mentally.
"Please!" said Lisa. Suddenly she smiled. "I'll pay for it myself! If we have our fortunes read, I promise I'm through window-shopping for the day. We'll have an early dinner and we can spend the evening any way you want." Another smile. "Within reason."
Raven noticed that they'd drawn a crowd of five or six onlookers. "Okay," he said with a shrug. "Let's go be eight-year-olds again."
"Thanks," she said, giving him a quick kiss, then grabbing his hand and leading him through the honking traffic at midblock.
"We could have gone to the corner and waited for a green light," commented Raven. "I seriously doubt that he's closing up shop and moving in the extra minute it would have taken."
"Where's your sense of adventure?" she asked with a laugh.
"I left it in my other suit."
They made it to the other side of the street and approached the little storefront.
"Now that's interesting," remarked Raven, staring at the window. "What kind of business does he think he's going to draw with a bunch of skulls on display right here where everyone can see them?"
"They look phony to me," said Lisa.
"You've seen a lot of human skulls, have you?"
"In films and museums," she answered.
"Take a closer look," said Raven. "These skulls have fractures, and the one in the back on the left looks for all the world like it has a bullet hole in it."
She laughed. "That's just to make them look real, Eddie."
Raven grimaced. "Okay, let's get this over with." He reached out and opened the door for her, then followed her in.
She took a deep breath and wrinkled her nose. "What is that?"
"Incense," said Raven.
"So where's the owner, or the fortune-teller?" asked Lisa.
"Probably scouting a less expensive location," replied Raven.
"Look at those gorgeous tapestries!" she said, pointing to a trio of tapestries with strange scenes and stranger letters woven into them. "What language is that-Chinese? Or maybe some Indian one? Asian Indian, I mean, not American Indian."
Raven frowned and shook his head. "No, it's not either."
"What is it, then?" asked Lisa.
He stared at the tapestries. "I have a feeling I knew once." Then he shrugged. "Must have been in college."
"They're so exotic!" she enthused.
"They must cost a bundle," replied Raven. "Even I think they're stunning." He looked around. "So are those little statues, though I hope I never run into anyone who looks like that."
Suddenly a small man clad in a black robe with a black ponytail, arching eyebrows, and exotic tattoos all over his arms and neck emerged from behind a curtain.
"Welcome," he said to Lisa with an accent that neither she nor Raven could place. "And how may I be of service to you?"
"Your sign says that you read fortunes," replied Lisa.
"So I do," said the man. "And since our hands will be touching each other, it is only fair that we know each other's names. I am Mako."
"And I am-"
"Lisa," he said with a smile. "I know."
"What now?" asked Lisa, wondering how he knew her name-but that just made him all the more exotic and mysterious. "Do we sit at a table, or-?"
"Whatever makes you comfortable," replied Mako. "I can do it right here if you like."
"How much is this going to cost?" asked Raven.
"For someone as beautiful as Lisa, ten dollars."
"You must read a lot of fortunes to pay for this place," said Raven.
"Sometimes all it takes is the correct hand," answered Mako as another customer entered the store.
Raven turned to look at the newcomer. He was a large bald man, much closer to seven feet than six, and it was clear that his burly physique came from muscles, not fat. He wore a light colored trench coat, and for all Raven knew he was naked beneath it, because except for sandals his legs were bare at least from the bottom of the coat to his knees, and his hands and wrists were the same. His eyes were the deepest black. Raven decided that he looked right at home in a shop that was selling the supernatural.
"Have we met?" asked Raven.
"Why should you think so?" asked the man.
Raven shrugged. "I don't know. I just have a feeling that I've seen you before."
The customer half smiled and half grimaced, and Raven turned his attention back to Lisa and Mako.
"You are twenty-three years old," said Mako, staring at her open palm. "You were born in February. You like Sondheim musicals. You adore Agatha Christie's mystery novels. You-" Suddenly he froze.
"What is it?" asked Lisa.
"You will die in seconds!" he whispered. He stared at her. "But why?" He turned to Raven. "It's got to be you! Why did you come here? You know better!"
"What are you talking about?" demanded Raven. "Or is it that you'll charge ten dollars to read her palm and ninety bucks to save her from a nonexistent-"
Before he could finish the sentence a gunman entered the shop and started blazing away. Lisa fell to the floor with two bullets buried in her chest. Mako followed an instant later with a bullet to his head.
The gunman frowned, turned, aimed at Raven, and pulled the trigger again, but the tall customer dove between them and took the bullet meant for Raven.
Raven could hear nearby sirens and people screaming. He spun around, looking for the shooter, but the man had fled into the gathering crowd. He stood where he was, numbly surveying the scene, then knelt down to see if any life remained in Lisa.
And as he did so, before he could determine if she was still breathing, he heard a voice that seemed to emanate from the empty air surrounding him. Run, Eddie Raven! You knew better than to come here! Nothing can save you if you don't flee!
And, almost without thinking, Raven opened the door and ran.
By the time he'd gone a block, Raven's brain started working again, and he skidded to a stop. All he could think was She's dead, and I didn't do a thing to save her. He had no idea how long he stood there, attracting stares from passersby, but finally he made his way back to the shop, just as the police mortuary van was driving away.
Eddie approached one of the two cops who had been left behind.
"Where are they?" asked Raven.
"Who wants to know?" demanded the nearer cop.
"One of them is a friend," said Raven. "A very good friend."
The cop stared at him for a moment, then shrugged. "The hospital over Ninth Avenue, just north of here."
"Thanks," said Raven.
He turned and began walking away before the cops thought to ask him any questions, and in another twenty minutes he entered the hospital and walked right up to the reception desk.
"May I help you?" asked a receptionist who was clad all in white.
"There was a shooting over on Fifth Avenue close to an hour ago," he began.
"Yes," said the receptionist. "It was quite a tragedy. I'm afraid one of the men was dead on arrival."
"What about the woman?"
She frowned. "What woman?"
"Two men and a woman were shot," said Raven. "I'm interested in the woman."
She shook her head and stared at him strangely. "There was no woman. There were just two men."
"There had to be!" said Raven. "I was there!"
She checked some papers on her desk. "I'm sorry, sir. There were two men and no one else. And, as I said, one of them was dead." She looked at the papers. "His name was Mako."
"May I speak to the other one?"
"I'm afraid not, sir," she replied. "He's in surgery even as we speak."
"Has he got a name?"
She frowned again. "I thought he was your friend."
"The woman was my friend," said Raven.
"I told you, sir," she said irritably, "we have no record of a woman."
Don't keep mentioning her, Raven told himself, or they'll think you're the nut who shot the other two.
"Right," said Raven. "My mistake. Can you tell me the name of the survivor?"
"Rofocale," she said.
He frowned. "Is that a first name or a last name?"
She shrugged. "Beats me."
"Can you tell me what room he's in? I'd like to speak to him when he's out of surgery."
"He'll be heavily sedated," she said.
Cool it, Eddie, he told himself. She already thinks you're only operating on one or two cylinders. Nag any more about this Rofocale and she'll think you shot him-and there are cops bringing in druggies and crash victims to the hospital every couple of minutes.
"Thank you, ma'am," said Raven. "Take good care of him."
"According to these reports he was in a bad way," she said. She stared at him for a long moment. "You weren't really there, were you?"
"No, ma'am," he answered. "I'm a reporter. Just trying to get my story before all my rivals descend upon you."
She smiled and nodded her head. "I thought so," she said in a self-satisfied tone.
And suddenly Raven saw a tiny opening. He pulled out his tablet, activated it, and asked for her name.
"My name?" she responded.
He nodded. "If you can let me see him before the rest of the press gets here, the least I can do is mention your name in the article."
"How very thoughtful of you," she said. "It's Mildred."
"You'll never be able to spell the last name." She scribbled it down on a piece of paper and handed it to him. "Here you are."
"Thanks, Mildred," said Raven, tucking the paper into a pants pocket.
He was about to turn and leave, and try again when she was off duty, but she crooked an index finger, gesturing him to lean forward. "He's in critical care," she whispered.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an odd little book. I decided to give this one a try largely because of the cover and the fact that it is the start of a new series. I don't think that I even read the book's summary before diving in since I like to go into most books that I read as possible. Having never read anything by this author before, I didn't have a lot of expectations. This was a quick read for me but one that left me scratching my head at times. This was a pretty weird story. I like weird so that wasn't a bad thing but it did leave me wondering what was going on more than a few times. Now that I have finished the book, I am still a little confused about the point of some of the stranger elements of the story. Even when the book is at its oddest, I found it to be very readable and was quite curious to see how things would end up. This book was really imaginative. If you like retellings, this book drops into several very well known stories. These stories aren't quite the way most readers remember though. There's a stop at a bar in Casablanca, a trip to Oz, and some time in Camelot. I was more familiar with some of these than others but had some fun with each one. The book did start out feeling pretty normal in Manhattan, with Eddie out shopping with his girlfriend, Lisa. I really wish that we had a bit more time with Eddie before he is sent off to different worlds. I liked his character and his sense of humor but I found myself really wanting to get back to the original story. I am not sure if I will be continuing with this series or not. I am glad that I read this book but I don't know that I am all that eager to jump around through various world with Eddie again. Although I might if I am in the mood for some well-written weirdness. I received a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group.
I don’t think I’ve read this author before, but I decided to give this one a try. I am a little at a loss to explain how I felt about this book, and really to explain what it’s about. The book is well-written, is very whimsical, has interesting and unique characters, and a wild plot. I wasn’t dissatisfied with the book, nor did I not enjoy myself. The book was just a little different than I am used to. I think it was maybe more…whimsical than I normally read. However, I can’t say it was terrible because it wasn’t. The book was an adventure and I did enjoy reading it, but I don’t think this type of book is the type for me. 3 ½ stars rounded up to 4. I do recommend this book for those who like unusual plots. I was provided the e-book which I voluntarily reviewed.