Sun Blind: The Secret of the Unicorn Queen, Book 2
Gwen Hansen, 1988
Fantasy Flashback is a week long event in which I'm re-reading books that were important to me as a young person. You MUST read the article for Swept Away first if you'd like to follow this one.
So I finally got a hard copy of the compilation volume of these first two books of the series. Sun Blind is more an additional adventure than anything too special on its own, but I enjoyed it.
Sheila continues to improve in swordplay, and the fighting is generally more violent in this volume. I do want to note a few inconsistencies possibly caused by the multiple authors these books had. In this book, Illyria is often (somewhat awkwardly) referred to in the narration as “The Unicorn Queen”, which didn't happen in book one. Also, while it was very clear in Swept Away that what happened to Sheila was dimensional travel, in this volume it's often spoken of as time travel, even though that makes no sense.
(Spoilers ahead, if you care) Something I liked about these books as a young person was that it wasn't wrapped up quickly. In Sun Blind, Sheila has been in this world for over a month, although less than a day has passed on Earth, so Dr. Reit hasn't made that much progress in getting her home. Near the climax of Sun Blind, Sheila chooses to help her friends and loses a chance to go home (via a mechanism which is awkward and never explained well). This plays into the obvious fantasy, but I don't mind that on principle. At that age, would you really want to go home?
The bit of these books that I most remember isn't actually in either of these volumes. A bit of internet searching tells me that Sheila returns home at the end of Book 3, but the scene I'm thinking of is from the start of Book 4. She's trying to reassure her friend that nothing is weird about the fact that in one day her hair grew inches, she got a heavy tan, and became a much better athlete. She of course returns to the other dimension for another three books of adventures, but something about that scene stayed with me.
I suppose it's partially relating to the sense of disconnect with “normal” life that is common to geeks and frequent readers, but it's also part of what I liked through this series: the descriptions of how her training was hard, but possible.
Overall the books are light sword and sorcery, but I enjoy them as fluffy fare. Short, fun, and easy, if inconsistent. I suppose I'll always have fondness for them, though they'll never be great literature.
All the ratings this week come with a caveat: every book discussed this week was a five star book to 11 year-old me. So please keep that in mind, this is not a universal judgement, but a personal one.
29 year-old me gives Sun Blind: 2 Stars - An Okay Book
Tomorrow: The Westing Game