To Ride Hell's Chasm Review

originally posted by George


Just adding my voice and humble opinion…

The first part of the book (about 150 pages or so) i found completely BORING! Little in character development and little background and things moved ever so slowly…but what a fool i was to doubt the essence of your work, because from that point on i was completely hooked. As usual, you write with such detail in every point and every scene that you feel that you are standing right there with the characters.

I liken this book (and your others) to a symphony. It starts slowly, with winding sounds and builds up quietly to a mighty crescendo which never fails to amaze. The reader is taken on the journey upward slowly (and it feels like you are hardly moving but that feeling of not moving is misleading), because when you look back you realise how far you've actually come. (I hope that I am making sense).

The moral of the story for me:
Let the book unfold before you and feel rest assured that you are in the hands of a great story teller. Kudos to you Janny! A great piece of work and I must confess that I feel like the dolt for not being patient at the start and doubting your work. Boy was i wrong! :smiley:


originally posted by Auna

I loved the book except the ending which I felt was too abrupt and tidied up everything too neatly. It came across to me like it ran up against a page limit and needed to end asap. It's probably the pacing difference between middle and end that caused it to feel so abrupt. It was still an excellent read :smiley:

Auna - there was no page limit. I wrote the book I intended - each character brought to recognition and closure. The steps to getting there were done and there seemed little merit in drawing them out further.

Anja's final (ruler's) choice - to have Mykkael BE what he was, and not bend that for her personal need, which would have lessened what he WAS - that was the triumph. What he WAS had saved her kingdom. To hang on, past that moment, would have debased and destroyed the one thing that had held the line.

The courageous choice - to let go - not to hang on to a moment, past its genuine purpose.

If I'd written on, I'd have not let go, either…nor would the reader have felt that. Anja's choice - did not happen without sacrifice, regret, and yes, loss. If you felt that, at the end, then I succeeded.

This (to my aim) was a story of the character of a warrior, set against the moral pressures imposed by the ruler…it was not a story ABOUT the magic, or the demons, or the threat - those were the stage and the backdrop against which the greater theme played. It was also about the collision of differing venues of cultural thought.

George - thank you for your take. Really nice you stayed for the payoff.

Wars of Light and Shadow will do the SAME THING - in entirety when all 5 arcs are complete. But the structure at the end could not stand, but for the intricacy of development.

I always have a purpose. Some may not agree with what I deliver, but I do know the steps I am taking. There's not "window dressing" - just purpose yet to be unveiled. I applaud those with the vision and the patience (most of this board) for their willingness to look at what is really there.

originally posted by Auna

Actually Janny, I liked that part of the ending and felt it was very courageous of her to let go. It was the other wrapup stuff that seemed too short. Guess I like reading your stuff too much and want it to never end :wink:

originally posted by Ika

Hi Janny and everyone,

TRHC was great! Mykkael's place as Captain spoke volumes along with the fact that his cultural background differs greatly from the people at Sessaile. Initially, it made me flinch to wonder where his fate will lead because his future at first looked bleak with everyone wanting him removed and stuff. For me, reading through this book had been a reminder of what cultural differences can do to a person, a race, a country, and so on. It's an eye opener, really…but which of Janny's books wasn't? *laughs*

I admit, I wanted a sequel *sheepish smile*, because I wondered if Sessaile will ever look past their differences and actually begin to join forces to battle the demons, or would they fail…and so on…(but that's thinking too big when the story was about Mykkael! Sorry janny! I was curious.)

Cheers everyone!

ps : Still can't get the ending for Peril's gate!! I think I'll call home and ask somebody to read it to me *laughs*

originally posted by George

Perhaps not a sequel to TRHC, but maybe another book written about the TRHC world? Maybe the background story of Mykkael's adventures in Efandi and the race to save the princess?

What do you say Janny? :smiley:


George - you asked. Would you learn a darned THING more about Mykkael, if I wrote this???

No new ground, no point writing. It would be the sort of 'coasting' I just can't sit still for…others might enjoy it, yes, but I'd die of boredom, retreading ground (for a year of regurgitating, with different "scenery") – the same inner territory already defined by the man's actions in Hell's Chasm.

If, genuinely, I had a genuine new idea - I'd consider doing it. If I could fit it in.

originally posted by Lyssabits

Well, I for one wouldn't mind a prequel. :wink: I admit that the story of Myykael's family is intriguing. We got a little taste of that in the conversations some of the demons had, and I was dissapointed we never learned more. :wink:

Or maybe something about Jussod's people, their culture was also pretty interesting, and I had half-hoped we'd see more of them. I'm always up for a good love story, so the story of Mykkael and the nomad Princess (whose name escapes me at the moment *hangs her head in shame*) could be fun… although I suppose not a terribly idea. I will admit to being girly enough that the love stories in your books are some of my favorite bits!


originally posted by George

Janny, I see your point about Mykkael as far as character goes. Yes, we have learnt quite a bit about Mykkael…about how he is NOW. However, the man he is NOW is NOT the man he was before. He obviously has grown and changed in accordance with his previous experiences, especially in Efandi. I just thought it might be interesting to see his transition from hardened mercenary to scarred man.

In any event, i was just making a hopeful suggestion. Point taken about time being a concern. Lets not push it! :smiley:


George - I wasn't offended. Shoulda put a smiley.
Just - the very idea - leaves a "blank" when I look at it - sure sign there's no new ground.

Fun assumption you made there - was he ever 'hardened?'

There could be angles that have new story - just not the one already taken.

I'll be immersed in Stormed Fortress for the forseeable future, at any rate.

originally posted by Trys


From my perspective, prequels can be 'dangerous' ground unless handled well. For example, Episodes 1 to 3 of the Star Wars movies. I've found them flat boring because I know what has to happen and so there's little surprise. (I won't comment on the dialog beyond one coworker referring to a certain scene between Anikan and the Princess feeling like a 'feminine hygiene' commercial (she used the word douche. :smiley:)

OTOH (On the other hand) if Janny were to write a prequel to any of her storylines you can bet it wouldn't cover ground already trod.


originally posted by Neil

I was also thinking about Star Wars as a bad example…although financially a success :wink: I felt that there should have been potential in EP: 1-3 to do a darker deeper "thing" but I guess fast lasers and strange creatures are more important…

I guess there has to be something new and interesting otherwise you can just cut and paste the first story and change the dates and "voil’" a whole new story :wink:

Even Tolkein's "prequel" silmarillion (well…he wrote it first I guess…) seems unpopular with all but "die hard" fans - I personally find it easier to reread than LotR since it is lot's of short stories really tied together in a main theme…

The only good prequel I can recall tight away is Hero and the Crown (Robin Mckinley) But the characters are all different. It's examines a legend from the first Daria book and the reader get's to see the 'reality' behind the legend present in the first. A nice idea I felt.

I guess it's always tempting to want more of something we like…

originally posted by Hunter

I feel Mykkael, like Korendir, has had his story. As Trys suggests, we know where Mykkael ends up so a pre-quel would seem like a by the numbers exercise. A later story wouldn't be compelling I don't think - Mykkael's story was that he couldn't save one princess, then saved the second, redeemed himself (in his eyes) and exorcised his demons. the only thing missing from the end of To Ride Hell's chasm was a quote an English Oxford Scholar put in one of his tomes "and he lived happily ever after, to the end of his days".

A prequel in the world of Korendir of what transpired when Korendir's brother (?) let loose the demons of Macak (sp?) would be an interesting read.

The original Star Wars stories had 70s panache about them, which allowed bad acting and wafer thin story - the new films has no story and even worse acting and a plot that simply serves to move from one enormous, sterile battle scene to the next.

Someone who found the Silmarillion easier to read? That's an interesting comment. In many ways, it's a reference and history text stating what is and how it came to pass. I always thought it somewhat more dense than the actual novels…

originally posted by Frank T Davis

I thought TRHC was an outstanding read and I enjoyed it immensely. The ending was right on. Thank you for finding the time to put it together for us. You are without a doubt a super, with a capital S, lady that you get done all that you do. We get impatient waiting for your next release but it has always been well worth the wait. And their are so many other good Fantasy novels available to fill the void. Finding TRHC surely helped.

originally posted by prad Modhvadia

I actually came acrros this book by PURE chance, in fact i did not pick it up the first time i saw it! I have just fininshed TRHC and had to say that i think it is PURE BRILLIANCE!! Simple.

I had never heard of Janny Wurts before this, now she is a name i will not forget.

Many thanks Jenny, you are blessed! :smiley:

Welcome here - and :smiley:

originally posted by winter

I think I had best have a word with the Toronto Public Library as for whatever reason neither Traitor's Knot nor TRHC is part of the catalogue or appears to be on order. Anyhow I finally got to reading TRHC. For the first half of the book I kept wondering how there could be so many pages left to solve the mystery and by the end I was wondering how there could be so few pages left to wrap up the story.

One thing I must say, Janny, you do like putting your main characters through some heavy torment. I know that contentment and happiness doesn't make for great stories but your characters always seemed condemned to particularily terrible time. :wink:

** Spoilers Ahead **

Just wondering, Janny, did the King have to be alive in order for the healing of Sessalie to take place? Or could it have happened through Anja alone? Could the Efandi princess be used to heal her country the same way? What happens to the shapechangers at that point? Would they be destroyed or freed somehow? Also (last one) when turned into a minion, does the demon take over the body or is the actual person corrupted (ie was it a corrupt Kailen acting or a demon using Kailen's body)?
Phew, sorry for that barrage of questions!

Hi winter - You Asked.

(Welcome here)


Yes, on the king being alive, and that healing. Something was needed to "bridge over distance" and Anja's connection to her father provided that (as the gift of the worked sash Jussoud gave Mykkael provided the bridge to Serphaedia.

If I EVER am tempted to write a sequel, you will see your answer in the Efandi princess - I am NOT planning this, it wasn't an option in the Hell's Chasm concept, BUT - it has occurred in hindsight there is another possibly (possibly!!) worthy story here. The corrupt ground in Efandi…what happens to it.

It's not something I want to work on just now. But the seed is there, twinkling.

When Sessalie was healed, the shapechangers presence would be dissolved back from whence it came. The demon is left whole, but cut off from that site. Minions are taken, claimed, corrupted to the point where a very difficult release is necessary to pull back the soul fragment of the dead person that is in thrall. Kailen received this release - the others could not at that moment, but, presumably may have, when the war was taken onto Devall's ground, and the family there, reclaimed where possible…this is all implied at the ending, but yes, it's a large chunk of action to "sum up"

The main thrust of this story was Mykkael's conquest of Hell's Chasm, and his bit part knowledge keeping everyone whole…he always WAS pitted against an enemy far larger than he was, this was quite plainly stated: that hope lay with the knowledge Ajna needed an alliance to gain, in protection. This was his quest: to keep her living until he could GET her there.

Yup, he had a mean time of it.

If you want a softer story, look at Sorcerer's Legacy if you can find it.

I have another few with less beaten protagonists planned out, but they are only in outline…two books, and a different sort of story line. Wish I could split every day into two…right now, the bigger series is getting the primary focus.

Thanks for your interest, in eventually tracking this title down! Your library could still acquire the hardbound, there are copies left.

originally posted by winter

Thanks! Maybe if I put in a request for it they'll order it. The Merril Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy simply cannot be considered comprehensive without the entire Wurts bibliography.

I have read Sorcerer's Legacy but I can't recall the story line to mind now. I think that means it's time for a re-read…

originally posted by Auna

I just reread it last night since I was looking for a smaller book to be able to finish before going to bed.