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The Sword of Forever

The Bernice Summerfield Adventures (Virgin) #14
Naomi Claydon

Nice pretentious title, that. It's been a while since I read an NA, so it took a while to get the brain up a gear, always a rewarding experience with a Jim Mortimore book.

We have Masons, Egyptians Pyramids, the Crucifixion, genetic horrors, The Inquisition, oh, and intelligent raptors. The ingredients for an unholy mess, if you'll pardon the expression, somehow become several coherent plots, that tie together gradually.

It's a bit complicated, but it boils down to Benny having to find certain artefacts related to the Crucifixion, and then either giving it to her new husband (yes, you read that correctly. I'm sorry, I'll never mutter darkly about Jason again. Until the next time.) or a pair of Mulder and Scully rip-offs working for the Masons. On the way, she does crack, speed and "a bunch of designers", all contained in a sugar lump. As well as posing naked on a camel, purely on order to get into the Pyramids, you understand. And as for what she wore to the wedding_

One thing that does begin to annoy is the way various media images are so blatantly ripped off. As well as the two Masons, Benny cheerfully finds the Holy Grail, an event so insignificant Mortimore doesn't bother to say how. Indiana Jones would be biting the brim of his hat in frustration- if he hadn't already bought it running through the Templar maze Benny went through, only to find- well, there was a clue in the Inquisition subplot, that otherwise was there just to give Benny a Templar's journal for clues.

The second subplot appears to concern Patience, a smart raptor who seems to have a lot more personality than most of the humans in the book. It should be very difficult to empathise with a dinosaur, and it's a credit to Mortimore's writing that Patience is so comprehensible.

The subplots are a constant throughout the book, so that after the Inquisition one and the Patience one, we have something from Marillian's (the new hubby) past, and finally the story of a strange civilisation that seems to worship Benny, and makes no sense whatsoever until near the end. That has to be the other problem. Frankly, Benny nearly dies a lot. At the Pyramids, in Scotland, France, and then Kampuchea, in one of the most disturbing things I've read since Virgin lost the licence.

There are many, many good things about this book, and if nothing else, it's worth reading just to remind yourself how good DW books were once, and how they could be again.