Wilson & Alroy on High Fantasy Novels  

Joy Chant

Chant (real name Eileen Joyce Rutter) was one of the first authors to jump on the Tolkien bandwagon, and, like Katherine Kurtz, was first published in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series when Lin Carter picked up on one of her manuscripts. Unlike Kurtz, she was far from prolific, producing just two more novels, both set in the same milieu: 1977's The Grey Mane Of Morning, and 1983's When Voiha Wakes. All of these novels were critically acclaimed, so it's a shame that she didn't produce more.

Red Moon And Black Mountain (1971)
The most slavish Tolkien ripoff I've yet seen, right down to the specifics: the hobbits (the three English children magically transported to the world called Vandarei) including Frodo (the messianic oldest brother Oliver), Sauron (Fendarl), the Rohirrim (the Khentors), the Numenoreans (the Harani), even Tom Bombadil (the Borderer) and Gwaihir the Windlord (the eagle King Merekarl). Sure, there are no dwarves or elves or interesting monsters, and Chant makes a major strategic error by not introducing a Shakespearean character like Gollum - everyone's basically all good or all bad. There are also some strange ideas like Oliver's implausibly rapid transformation into a grownup warrior who inexplicably forgets his origins. But I'll settle for it; I'm way too addicted to Tolkien not to get a rise out of such a thing. And at least the female characters like the little girl Penny, the motherly Princess In'serinna, and the romantically frustrated teenager Mneri are much more strongly developed - actually, it's well-written in general, although it veers into melodrama and silliness, and isn't able to create a world as rich and believable as Middle Earth. Recommended if your copy of the Trilogy is falling apart from too many readings. (JA)