I keep talking about Mercedes Lackey as a “gateway” author, whose work has led me to so many other talented writers over the years. I’ve also learned that she has collaborated with a ridiculous number of them, not simply been in the same anthologies and collections. Some of these partnerships are more mindboggling than others.
Last week my family wandered over to a massive flea market not too far away. Of course I was pleased to find booksellers, but most of them had little or no science fiction or fantasy for sale. However, there was one. More to the point, that seller in particular only carried used books. I’ve seen larger sci-fi/fantasy sections, but this was goodsized for the place and you can bet I examined it thoroughly. I found three books there, which is actually a lot for some random place I’ve never heard of before.
One of these was If I Pay Thee Not In Gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey.
It’s been a long time since I read anything by Piers Anthony. My dad has a bunch of his work including every single Xanth novel. The guy’s one of his favorite authors, so you can imagine that the first thing I did after finding this book was ask if my dad had any knowledge of it whatsoever. Which he didn’t – he’d never heard of it before. This isn’t entirely surprising; I’ve managed to find a number of books like that. Many of them are best forgotten or overlooked.
This is not one of those.
Anthony and Lackey enfold us in the country of Mazonia which, as you might guess, is something of a fantastical Amazonian culture where women rule and men are slaves. Not even second-class citizens, but chattel and property. The story is rich and immersive and we do eventually venture beyond Mazonia’s borders into different and stranger lands. I can even see some commentary about going too far with some ideals (veganism and PETA in that case).
I’ll had admit I had some misgivings about this given my last exposure to Piers Anthony. At my dad’s urging, I read the quintet consisting of Dragon’s Gold, Serpent’s Silver, Chimaera’s Copper, Orc’s Opal, and Mouvar’s Magic. It was cliche, the books became repetitive and less believable as they went on, and then the end of the final book just…ugh! It was like when the TV series Lost finally ended and it turned out that everyone had been dead from the first episode. I was supremely pissed off with what I’d read, as if Piers Anthony was Lucy pulling the football away from me as Charlie Brown.
Needless to say, this is the first time since then I’ve read anything with his name on it. So, the first time in more than fifteen years, to give you a rough idea of how long ago that was.
Given that Lackey’s name is also on the cover, I needn’t have feared. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I enjoy almost all of her work that I’ve read. It’s wonderful that she is so prolific that I can still turn up more books I had no idea she’d written. Oh sure, I’ve occassionally visited her page on isfdb.org, but there’s so much on it I’m not going to sit down and check off everything I’ve read. It’s far more fun to just see what the world throws at me.