Back when it was OK to read fantasy novels in English class....
October 28, 2009 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Okay, fantasy novel ID two-fer. Book One: people live in villages that are suspended on the side of an enormous cliff and a girl is born who has wings. Book Two: set in a world made up of bits of earth suspended in a void, cape-fighters, a spider-god....

I read both of these books sometime around 1992-93.

More on book one: specifically, the villages are attached to the cliff by the roots of enormous plants or trees. The axiom "measure twice, cut once" is used when setting up the plot, to underscore the precision it takes to engineer the support system for the villages out of these roots. The title of the book may have been something like "_____ Descends" or "_____ Falls", where the blank is the name of the winged, female protagonist. I seem to recall that the book had sort of a "Ursula LeGuin" feel, rather than a more standard fantasy novel.

More on book two: the bits of earth suspended in the void are of varying sizes, some are big enough to hold whole cities. The plot involves a thief stealing something of great value from a castle or mansion, then trying to escape with it. In the void surrounding the floating earth are "vampires", which, in this book, are small parasitic creatures. There is a character who is a "cape-fighter", who fights using a weighted cape that maybe has some blades on it. There is also some kind of spider-god who lives on one level of the void and I seem to remember the book ending on his "world". This book definitely had the feel of being a book in a larger series and I recall that it maybe wasn't very well written.

I was reminded of the first book over a year ago while reading about the hanging coffins in China and then the second book popped to mind as something I read at about the same time. It's been killing me that I can't track these down.
posted by otolith to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Um, the first one sounds a little like the Samaria series by Sharon Shinn. I don't remember the measure twice, cut once axiom though and the titles don't jive with what you remember.
posted by dchrssyr at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2009

I can't speak to the first, but the second one sounds like Dragonworld by Byron Preiss and Michael Reaves. I remember loving it but wouldn't promise that it will have held up well.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:22 PM on October 28, 2009

Best answer: Actually, my mistake...I don't think the world is shattered in Dragonworld. Could it be this other Michael Reaves book, Burning Realm? Second in a series as it happens.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:26 PM on October 28, 2009

Response by poster: Yes! The book before Burning Realm in that series, The Shattered World by Reaves, is my book #2! I immediately recognized the cover, even after 14 some years. Fantastic! Thanks, JaredSeth.

I don't think my first book is in the Samaria series, those sound like a different kind of novel than what I remember.
posted by otolith at 1:39 PM on October 28, 2009

Best answer: The first one might be The Flight of Mavin Many-Shaped. Alternately, Zilpha Keatley-Snyder's "Green-Sky" trilogy - "Below the Root", "And all Between", and "Until the Celebration",

In the former, a shape-shifter's sister goes mad and (in the shape of a bird, or a bird-woman) flees, ending up in a town - one of a series of towns - built in roots on the walls of a great chasm.

In the latter, the cities are in enormous trees, and people use wing-like garments to fly, but the main character is male, so I suspect that these may not be the books you are looking for.
posted by ubersturm at 3:16 PM on October 28, 2009

Darn - you beat me to it - I liked "The Shattered World" so much that I built a RPG game world around it.

I think your first book was written later - late 90s - I remember buying and reading it, but of course do not remember the title.
posted by jkaczor at 4:52 PM on October 28, 2009

Response by poster: The Flight of Mavin Many-Shaped, that's it! Oh man, it's been haunting me for so long.

Love you guys. Drinks on me if we're ever at the same meet-up.
posted by otolith at 7:14 PM on October 28, 2009

« Older Does bf qualify for military benefits?   |   Yes, I've got a lulu. Why? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.