P. C. Hodgell. My very favorite kind of obsession is the obscure obsession. I love chocolate, but chocolate has lots of lovers. Ms. Hodgell's works are neglected treasures. I have never quite been able to analyze what draws me so strongly to her fiction. The closest I can get is to say that she takes the standard elements of fantasy and somehow makes them fresh again. I like her characters. She writes a great cat. :)
The main character of her novel series is Jame Talissen. Jame is the heir of many strange legacies: race, religion, magic, caste. She is the avatar of destruction, possessor of dangerous skills yet she is in many ways naive, friendly, loyal, and does not relish her power to destroy--well usually. I find Jame a very likeable character, her quality is probably the first reason I'd cite for my enjoyment of her story. Second reason.. mm, I find Ms. Hodgell has a certain sensuality of expression. I feel the presence of her characters as I read of them, of places and forces. This is very high fantasy and there are weird things everywhere in her world.
What kills me is that Ms. Hodgell has had fairly bad luck with being published. Meisha Merlin press (see www.meishamerlin.com) has republished the first three books with promises of a fourth in the hopefully near future. I drool just thinking about getting my hands on it. I paid 70 dollars for a copy of the third book, I had two copies of the first book, and I've bought the republished versions as well.
That reminds me of another favorite series in quite a different vein. Some decades ago, I think the Fifties, a French historical novel series came out--the Angelique books. By cover and blurb they look like cheesy bodice rippers. But appearances are deceiving. In writing, in plotting, in research, in character, in sheer power they surpass the category of the historical romance. A couple of years ago I found out that there had been three novels that were never translated into English and that the author is locked in a vicious struggle with her French publisher, who appear to be trying to draw out legalities until she's dead. It enrages me.. she should be free to write her wonderful stories, not having to worry about money or legal troubles. For reading enjoyment, I have gotten nearly as much pleasure from the Angelique books as I have gotten from reading the Lord of the Rings. This is my highest compliment.
I dedicate this post to P. C. Hodgell, Anne Golon, and J.R.R. Tolkien, all wonderful authors who have not gotten nearly the respect they deserve from the mainstream of society.