Steppe by Piers Anthony
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Alp, a ninth century Uigur Warrior, is snatched from certain death to a time fifteen centuries in the future, where he takes part in a sinister game called Steppe, a game to which he is uniquely suited...
Steppe is an interesting book, to say the least. I've long been interested in Mongolian culture and Steppe fits the bill. The Game, as it is called, is a replaying of history with people playing the role of characters. The players of the Game are celebrities of a sort. As Chris Roberson says in the foreward, Steppe is a forerunner of both reality TV and virtual reality. It reminds me of Implied Space by Walter Jon Williams in that way. As far as stories go, it's a pretty good read. The writing style took me forever to place. It reminds me of Philip Jose Farmer when he's trying to be funny, like in Dark is the Sun or Green Odyssey.
So why only three stars? I'll tell you. Even though the edition I read was only 125 pages long, it still seemed about fifty pages too long. It felt like Piers was trying to stretch a short story into a novel. While I liked Alp and though his metamorphosis into Genghis Khan was well done, I felt like it was padded.
While I enjoyed Steppe, I'd call it good but not great. If you're into pulp fantasy with a Mongolian bend, you'll definitely enjoy it.
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