Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-59998-166-1
With Nine You Get Vanyr is the first book in a planned fantasy series called The Nine Sisters. The premise is this: nine women attend the Dragon*Con in Atlanta and end up being transported a to a new world, one in which their favorite TV show is set in. This world, Domain, is ruled by the goddess Reyah who just happens to be looking for wives for her nine bickering sons. Why stop at nine, by the way? I can see some people snickering not very nicely and wondering why we can’t transport every one of those fangirls and fanboys to Domain, heh. And can we do that to all the creepy Harry Potter fans as well before the new book comes out so that sane folks can buy the book in peace?
The nine women are fans of the TV show Domain who get together at Dragon*Con after making plans over the Web. The show is something like The Highlander, only this time we have Reyah’s sons the Vanyr running around as immortals doing all kinds of macho stuff on TV. Since they are at Dragon*Con, Thea Gardner and Liz Deveraux are not too surprised when an old woman comes up to them and introduces herself as Madame Reyah. Humoring her and pouncing on the opportunity to gush about the show to someone else, these ladies are nonetheless a little disconcerted by how this Reyah seems a little more… otherworldly than a typical Dragon*Con fan.
Over at Domain, in the land of Seshmeel, one of the Vanyrs, Roarke, finds himself becomingly increasingly frustrated in his attempts to stop his brother Deryk from causing trouble in the land. His mother isn’t taking the threat of Deryk seriously and his brothers who have come to his rescue are buffoons. Reyah’s chief justiciar Alfred is more concerned with finding hard evidence of Deryk’s perfidy. I don’t understand myself why Deryk is allowed to behave the way he does for three millennia but I suppose there won’t be a story if these people are halfway sensible.
Due to a string of events I’d leave the readers to find out for themselves, Deryk ends up stealing a mysterious and supposedly very powerful bracelet that can destroy the world or something, so Reyah spins a plan. She uses the Wishstone to get nine women at Dragon*Con to Domain where these poor unfortunate women will marry the Vanyrs and get them to settle down and be one big happy family. Normally Reyah appoints the prettiest men of various worlds as her Chosens – gee, I wonder why – but she’ll make an exception here and make the nine fans of the TV show her new Chosens.
Let me try to remember the women’s names. There are Thea and Liz, of course. Then there are Sarah, Marisol, Brigid, Britney… wait, I’m sure there is no Britney here. Christina? Paris? Lindsay? Hmm. The problem here is there is a huge cast here. This isn’t one of those series where each heroines gets her own story, this is one where all nine heroines share the stage, so to speak, with all these Vanyrs and Chosens and more, to the point that I actually start taking down notes just to remind myself who is who. It doesn’t speak well of how well-drawn or memorable the women are, therefore, when I can barely remember their names after I’m done with this story, much less recall what they did in this story.
There are some most amusing in-jokes aimed at the fandom scene here but on the whole, with its open-ended ending, this book is a pretty hard one for me to draw a conclusive verdict on. The story hasn’t ended yet and will be continued in upcoming books. On the other hand, With Nine You Get Vanyr has a big cast with many characters, some of whom could be easily ditched aside, and with this book’s quick cuts from scene to scene, things can become most confusing indeed. The characters aren’t the most well-developed for the obvious reasons. There are some very interesting concepts going on here but at the end of the day, I feel that the authors have bitten more than they can chew by introducing a cumbersome large cast in a story of a length that is ill-prepared to accommodate all of these characters in one go. We need something the size of a Robert Jordan book to accommodate everyone here!
Deryk and his erotic relationship with his snake are pretty smoking though.