The Sorcerer's Web

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Zine
Title: The Sorcerer's Web
Publisher: Gryphon Press
Editor:
Author(s): Liz Bradford
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): September 1998
Medium: print zine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: The Professionals
Language: English
External Links:
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front cover

The Sorcerer's Web is a 160-page novel by Liz Bradford (101,000 words). This Bodie/Doyle fantasy AU was later published as profic with the serial numbers filed off by Wayward Books as "The Sorcerer's Web" by T.P. Macer.[1]

The Hatstand's summary: "An alternate universe Bodie/Doyle novel with a fantasy setting. Doyle is a ranger working for Grand Mage Cowley while Bodie is the slave of an evil sorcerer."[2]

One comment describes the novel as "not so much AU as a sort of AU 'crossover' with The Web of Wizardry by Juanita Coulson. Large bits of character and plot from W of W turn up. Good, though. I've noticed a lot of early Pros AU tends to feature plots or worlds from 70s and 80s fantasy and sci fi, and that authors in one genre have gone on to write in the other-Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett's Point of Dreams, for example."[3]

Some years later a commenter identifying herself as Liz Bradford added: "Actually, I never read the Web of Wizardry." [4]

In 2001, after filing off its serial numbers, this zine was published by Wayward Books as original m/m fiction.

Excerpt

"Doyle, his face white with tension, hung over the phenomenal drop, loose stones falling away from him on each side as he scrabbled vainly for a foothold. About two feet from the top of the gorge, he had caught his arm over an exposed tree-root, whilst the white-knuckled fingers of his other hand were wrapped tightly around a short spur of rock. A muscle twitched in his jaw as he stared up at Bodie, soundless in his desperation, his laboured breathing ragged with fear. Bodie stared back at him, totally incapable of movement ."

Sample: The Zine Version

Reactions and Reviews: The Zine

1999

When I received my copy of the zine, I already liked the cover (green) which is definitely in keeping with the Gryphon tradition of keeping everything simple, but of good quality. It was a good idea, too, to print the web on the back cover, as that gives a nice finishing touch. On opening the zine I was pleased to see a map. Not that it was really needed for the story, but I loved the palm tree in Dabren and the 'Smurf' cottages in Fenburgh. If you think you will now get a description of the story, think again. After all, it will be so much better to read Sorceror's Web. Maybe I should explain how I read a story. My 'how* is important in finding out if an A/U will work for me. I tend to visualise the story, to see and hear the characters - or rather, I try to imagine Bodie/Collins and Doyle/Shaw taking on the characters wiithin a movie, as it were. If that doesn't work, I might leave a story unread. Not so with Sorcerer's Web. It wasn't 'All Systems Go' from the start, but the way the scene was set eased me into the story like a shoe-horn and made me curious about its development. For a number of pages I meandered through an otherwise well-paced story until at page fourteen, the novel's Bodie snapped into 'my' Bodie. Doyle took considerably longer until I saw the sharper side to the Ranger. He seemed too soft for me, his demeanour not what I would have expected from the descriptions of the Rangers. Then in chapter five I came across a short-tempered, "How much bloody longer can it go on?" which showed that the stroppy bugger - 'my Doyle' - had finally arrived. Now I really started to enjoy myself, what with the characters being 'there*, a plot starting to unfold, and a glass of Coke on the table near the couch. I was looking forward to the twists and turns of those one-hundred-plus pages before me. I was nicely led up the garden - or in this case, the Towers - path several times, so I learned fast not to take a characterisation at face value. Already, the beginning of the chapter The Tower had me on edge. And while the end of 'Interrogation', was somehow peaceful for Bodie, the next I read about was a seriously weakened Doyle. Throughout the gruelling descriptions I was still able to read of Bodie's unconditional devotion to Doyle, made all the more poignant by the following chapters, in which Doyle fought hard to maintain his apparent vicious domination. I loved the story, including that ride into the sunset, which was perfectly corny and tongue-in-cheek. Need I say that I adored Lancer? The idea of an empathic cat approving of the pair was just lovely. The story is hurt/comfort with a very happy end, so it gave me more than a few hours of reading bliss. [5]
I didn't enjoy The Sorcerer's Web but that was nothing to do with the writing skills. I just didn't like the way Bodie was treated by the others. I know it was a large part of the plot and was (in the storyline) necessary for his own good, but I didn't enjoy that I dislike it when any of my favourites are treated thus; I like them to be in control, as I like to be in real life, and I resent people who tell you something is for your own good or try to manipulate you. [6]
For an AU I'd be tempted to nominate Sorcerer's Web as a must-read, though I believe not many of the Americans have read it. Bodie, brought up from infancy by the sorcerers who are opposed to Cowley (a good magician), who has Doyle, Murphy, etc as his men. It runs the gamut of misunderstanding, angst... and the characters strike me as pretty true to how I see them. [7]

2008

Just read this zine for the second time, and thought I'd take a moment to say how much I liked it! It's an AU story, which put me off for a while, until I realised that Pros AUs were absolutely brilliant, and there's magic involved, which put me off even more until I realised that the author was nothing like Jane and her ilk (i.e. - no elves!) but I'm so glad I ended up reading it, because it's great.

Bodie is thoroughly Bodie - mean and moody about the secrets from his past, full of himself and joyful when he's able to forget them, and Doyle is totally Doyle - self-confident as life, moody and quick-tempered on occasion, but ultimately sure of the part he plays in the world. And they're beautifully, instantly together, from the moment they meet. Even if Bodie has been sent by an evil sorcerer to... well, I'm not going to spoiler it. *g* [8]
I [read it] years ago and I can't remember very much about it - only that I absolutely loved it. And no... it ain't *anything* like ane. ;-) [9]
I love this one too - the characters, as you say, are spot on, & the AU setting works really well. It's nicely balanced with angst for both & Cowley is terrific too. [10]
I really enjoyed this too. It took me a bit of time to get a feel for that universe. But once I did, she had me. It's an excellent AU. [11]
I think I actually enjoyed it even more the second time around, and maybe that was why, because I could virtually go straight into the universe rather than having to feel my way first (which I often do with that sort of fantasy fic, much though I like it) That was one reason I liked the Pointsmen stories though, I felt like I was immediately comfortable in the authors' universe, even though it was actually a very unusual fantasy universe... [12]
I was sooo afraid it was going to be like Jane's AU's - but you're right, it's not. Heaps of pain & trouble for both of them, thanks to evil sorcerers, though it's all resolved happily. [13]

I have a bit of a problem with scifi and fantasy Pros AUs. I love the genres themselves, but for some reason I just can't get on with them as settings for Pros fic. I really don't see Bodie and Doyle in most of them. (The one where they end up on a trip to Mars is an exception - I liked that.)

Sorceror's Web, though, I loved. I have just this evening lent it to a friend and was thinking "I really ought to recommend this zine on LJ, after making such a run of 'this zine was so-so'" posts. So I had a quick search and someone has beaten me to it. But it's three and a half years ago, so maybe I'll do it again. As soon as she brings it back!

I liked everything from the very distinctive writing style to the background world. And, above all, yes, I believed that they were Bodie and Doyle, the same characters, simply formed by entirely different circumstances. [14]

Summary: Original Fiction Version

cover of Wayward Books version

In 2001, this book, with its serial numbers filed off, was published by Wayward Books. It was that presses' first offering.

"The Royal Family of Cardia has been viciously murdered and the country's borders are being attacked. Adam Pell is a ranger, defending the realm as he mourns the death of his cousin, the king. Then he meets Morgan, on his way to enlist, and the attraction is instant and mutual. But Morgan is not what he seems. Dangerous, complex, haunted by his past and compelled by his masters to carry death with him wherever he goes, he brings a dreadful threat to Cardia - and to Adam Pell himself." [15]

Reactions and Reviews: "Original Fiction" Version

2008

I've actually only ever read the Wayward Books version, and in those days I didn't even know there was a Pros connection. Come to think about it, back when I read the book, I'd never even heard of slash, or Pros fic, or fandom, or... well, about five zillion other things...

I do know that I enjoyed the story very much indeed - and now that you've put it in my mind, I think it's time to dig out the zine version and reread it. [16]

2012

In general, I'm not a fan of fan fiction turned into "original" fiction. For what it's worth, I always recommend that folks read the original zines, even if they do read the revised versions as well. Much of the depth in good fan fiction comes from its draw on canon (at least in my opinion), and those are often the details most likely to be lost in commercial revisions, for obvious reasons.

I've read several of the Wayward Books versions of what were originally Pros fan fiction stories, and the differences between the two varies from essentially only a name change for the main characters to more substantial changes. [17]

The plot is more than a simple fantasy.

It's presented as a romantic-fantasy, and it's exactly what it is. But it's also very dark. Morgan (the assassin) is not an easy character. When he is the narrator you will suffer with him. He never knew love, or even compassion. Grown up in a horrible environment, he suffer the worst possible punishments to be conditioned as an assassin to the wizards. He may look like any other man, but he is broken. Soulless and hopeless he follow orders... but the last order will change his world forever. He must kill the ranger, Adam, and for the first time he will rebel against it.

Adam, is not just a simple ranger. He is the cousin of the prince, the missing prince. All the royal family was killed, and the prince is missing. Adam aim in live is find his beloved cousin. Not because he is the king, but because he is the only family Adam have.

I was adoring this book, but... yes, there is a but... a huge but... and I want to explain it dividing the book in Before the raven tower incident and after the raven tower incident. Unfortunately I can't say exactly what it means. I would spoil the mystery. So, I will refer to it just as "the raven tower incident".

Before the raven tower incident it was EXACTLY the sort of fantasy I was looking for. I enjoy the sword training, the world description, the quick and not sappy romance between the main characters. Everything was perfect and the reading was a joy.

but... but... damn... there is always a but...

After the raven tower incident I start to have huge problems.

It will be a hard book. Very close to be consider exaggerated violent. I could sympathize with Adam rage and pain... but.. dammit... Morgan's suffer will make me want to scream, and take a knife and kill Adam. NO, I'm not kidding.

IF YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WITH ABUSE AVOID THIS BOOK.

No it's not a warning for nothing... after the raven tower incident there will be so many horrible scenes... and yes, it will shock you if you have problems with slave/abduction plots.

The "abuse" in this book was so sudden that I hate each page of it. There is a logic? Of course there is. Morgan was an assassin, and certainly commit so many crimes it couldn't end "oh, we all forgive you, the realm is happy you regret your crimes". And of course, he can't even be free from the mages influence easily. A live time of abuse and rape (oh yeah, beware... nothing will be described, but yes, even that Morgan suffer growing up in the Raven Tower) will brake his mind... and maybe, yes, just more violence and abuse could break him again.

I still believe the "second part" (after the Raven Tower incident) was not just full of abuse, but boring. The page turner book became a exaggerated sappy story, with a strong character (Morgan) so broken he became a stranger... and I hate it. And worst, the hero, and great character that I felt in love with, Adam, became a masochist. I hate it too.

Worst of all? WHAT I really didn't enjoy?

The abuse was saw as a "kinky" and sexy thing.

Even in the end, the very end, last page, both men are... not the men I felt in love in the begin of the book. I lost my interest, when the roles where exchanges, and the criminal became the victim.

Last remark... Sagar, the mage, don't just raise and abuse Morgan from his childhood... there is the possibility of a much worst dark plot... Morgan could be his son. When there was the incest subplot I reaaaally put it down and start to read another story for a while. Incest is such a dark theme, and such a horrible crime, even if it's not real, fictional characters, I was so disgusted I had to stop

So, it was a 5 stars story, that lost me... and all the unnecessary abuse (IMO it was unnecessary) force me to admit it's a very good story, but unfortunately turn in a unbearable sufferance. [18]
A good fantasy novel that's not too complex but does have a nice twist to the story. I enjoyed it immensely. [19]

2013

I only managed to make it about 60 pages in before the ridiculously bad prose, unrealistic dialogue, egregious grammar errors, and clunky characterization got to me. I picked this up because it was on a list of sci-fi and fantasy novels including LGBT* characters, and the other books on the list had it in good company. The reviewer acknowledged all of the things that bothered me, and said it was worth reading anyways, because of the touching story. Perhaps someday I will come back and finish this book, as I really cannot stand the idea of simply giving up (especially when a reviewer I have come to trust says it's worth it), but for now, I'm going to have to let it go and move on. No star rating, because I think it's unfair to rate it if I haven't read the whole thing. [20]

References

  1. See review and discussion about The Sorcerer's Web (zine and book) in the CI5 Headquarters LJ communtiy. (Accessed 05 August 2009)
  2. The Hatstand. The Sorcerer's Web by Liz Bradford. (Accessed 11 December 2010); WebCite
  3. mungo_jerrie. Sorcerer's Web or The Web of Wizardry? :), 19 June 2008. (Accessed 10 December 2010)
  4. anon. Sorcerer's Web or The Web of Wizardry? :), 26 June 2011. (Accessed 10 July 2012)
  5. from DIAL #9
  6. from DIAL #9
  7. comment at CI5 listserv, quoted anonymously (January 30, 1999)
  8. 2008 comments at CI5hq; archive is
  9. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  10. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  11. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  12. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  13. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  14. 2012 comments at CI5hq
  15. from Wayward Books
  16. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  17. 2012 comment by taverymate at Camera Shy, Prosfinder
  18. a review by bookwatcher at Goodreads; reference link
  19. a review by Robin at Goodreads; reference link
  20. a review by Kiv at Goodreads; reference link