Warrior squirrels. Uncertain borders. Scholars studying the language of ants. Officialdom rewriting ancient scripture to conform to new doctrine. Blasphemous wolves. Squirrel poetics versus marmot rhetoric, and the value of structure. A murdered prophet. An insecure poet. An ambitious leader, anxious to rise and rule. A loyal warrior, exiled for honesty. Useless extra body parts. Interspecies enmity.
Steve Peck, biologist, poet, and sometimes disciple of Mervyn Peake, weaves an intricate and noble story in The Rifts of Rime. His tale is solidly rooted both in the tradition of epic-poetic fantasy (The Lord of the Rings) and in animal fable (Watership Down). My children loved it, and so did I.
Sadly, The Rifts of Rime embodies in its publication a warning parable about the risks of publishing with a small publisher. After patchy support at best for the first tale, this excellent book’s sequels have not been picked up by the publisher. So the bad news is that the further adventures of Pinecone, Zanch, and the others (or their descendants) is not now available for general consumption. The good news is that Peck is a free agent, the manuscript exists, and I have confidence that sooner or later, whether publicly packaged as sequels to The Rifts of Rime or not, we’ll have another chance to peek inside this charming magical world.