Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn

Book Review: 'The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn' by Algis Budrys


0 / 5 Stars

‘The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn’ (159 pp) was published by Fawcett’s Gold Medal imprint in 1967; the cover artwork is by Frank Frazetta.

As the novel opens, its protagonist, White Jackson, is striding across the desert of the un-named planet on which he and the descendants of the original Terran colonists survive (amid greatly reduced circumstances). Jackson is on his Manhood Quest, which involves setting off into the desert in order to pursue and kill an indigenous, bird-like alien humanoid: an Amsir.

In the course of his Quest, Jackson is startled to discover that much of what he has been told of the Amsirs, and life in the bedraggled confines of the human colony, are lies and fictions, designed to maintain a precarious social order.

Perhaps the remainder of the novel has something to do with Jackson’s path to discovering the truth about his heritage, the Amsirs, and the fate of the colony. But after I reached page 40, I gave up and tossed ‘The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn’ away.

This is one of the worst sf books I’ve ever attempted to read.

Algis Budrys was plainly going through the motions with this piece. The novel shows every sign of being hastily assembled and subjected to little, if any, editing. The prose is stilted and often afflicted with such poor syntax that entire paragraphs are simply empty verbiage:

It came to him that he’d spent a lot of years running around the Thorn and pitching darts to come to the moment he realized it was all downhill from here on. But it was all downhill. And when he thought of all the people he’d seen follow that road, and the way they did it because they’d all heard the elders telling them and telling them how to do it, White Jackson realized that the track to Ariwol was beaten many times as hard as the track around the Thorn. 


Far from being an undiscovered gem of late 60s sf, ‘ The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn’ is best left to deserved obscurity.

2 comments:

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MPorcius said...

Budrys has a good reputation, but I was very disappointed in his famous Rogue Moon.

Also, I like Frank Frazetta, but the painting on this edition of The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn is one of his weaker efforts; that monster looks clumsy, and even worse, it is boring.