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The Burning City
ISBN 0671036602 / 9780671036607 / 0-671-03660-2
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Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have created a unique and believable world set in the universe of Niven's The Magic Goes Away. The story begins nearly 14,000 years ago in Tep's Town, located on the future site of Los Angeles. Tep's Town is a city held captive by the slumbering god of fire, Yagen-Atep. Awakening only occasionally, he commands selected men to begin Burnings by giving them the ability to start fires coupled with consuming anger.
Whandall Placehold grows up in the stagnant, three-class society of Tep's town, part of a gang of thieves. No one gets in or out, since the town is hemmed in by a malevolent forest. But when Whandall is chosen by Yagen-Atep to start the Burnings, he resists the compulsion and, aided by Atlantean wizard Morth, escapes through the forest with a group of children he saves from certain death.
As the years pass, Whandall builds an empire, buys wagons and bison, and builds a trade route all along the California coast--except for Tep's Town. Life is good for Whandall and his bride, Willow, until they get a message from a desperate Morth: he convinces Whandall to return to Tep's Town and help eradicate, once and for all, an ancient magical being from Atlantis who has been trying to kill Morth for many years.
The Burning City is a lively book that deftly integrates social concerns of today with the magic and mythology of yesterday. Cameo appearances by the Native American god Coyote and the Norse god Loki add to the mischievous nature of the book. With a well-thought-out system of magic, characters with depth, unicorns, and swashbuckling adventure, this book is sure to please hardcore fantasy readers and fans of Niven and Pournelle. --Robert Gately [via]