Book Review: The Changeling by Roger Zelazny

The Changeling by Roger Zelazny is a sci-fi fantasy novel about a boy named Dan and a man named Pol who are actually one and the same. It is the novel that comes before Madwand, which I sadly read and reviewed out of order. Both novels can be read as stand-alone novels. However, like any good series, they feel more complete together.

The Changeling begins on an exciting note. Rondoval castle is under attack and two wizards are going head-to-head. The end result of this battle is a child being removed from this magical world of wizards and being taken to a world that is more technologically advanced and less magical. It is the polar opposite of the first world in that respect. The child is traded for a young boy named Dan. Dan is taken to the other boy's world. The other boy, whose real name is Pol, is raised as Dan. Dan is raised by a simple farmer.

Eventually, the trade-off proves bad and Pol must return to his world to stop Dan from bringing too much technology into this magical place. Pol learns he is a wizard and takes back his parents' fallen castle. In many ways, it is a better novel than Madwand. The clash of magic and technology is more pronounced. The urgency is more vivid. In addition, there are more magical creatures and odd happenings.

Like other Zelazny novels, The Changeling is not too histrionic. He writes of magic as if it were a simple thing, explaining it visually and viscerally. He is an excellent writer, so do not mistake the last to mean his pieces are too shallow. It just means that he does not try to be overly dramatic. It is not a majestic dragon whose mountainous body alarms and astounds. It is a dragon and it is big. Okay, he words it better than that, but the dragons do not sparkle and he does not write himself into plot holes that no amount of backtracking can fix, *ahem* Stephenie Meyer. He does fantasy so it does not seem too fantastic. There is more room for an appealing, quick read this way.

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is a wildly successful author and I admit to reading and enjoying some of her work. She has to admit that the vampire pregnancy and no reaction to menstruation things were just not easily explained, though. Venom is not sperm and blood is blood. However, I have to give her credit. She could probably make a house out of money. Zelazny might not have been able to. However, his novels do tend to hold water. 

Shelly Barclay

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