Steven R. Boyett
Copyright Date: 1983, Second Ed. 2009
The back cover blurb:
It's been five years since the change...
Five years since the lights went out, cars stopped in the streets, and magical creatures began roaming the towns and countrysides of Earth.
Pete Garey, a young loner who survived the Change and the madness that followed, spent two years wandering and scavenging the near-deserted cities and towns alone - until the day he encountered an injured unicorn. He nursed her back to health and named her Ariel, and an unlikely friendship was formed.
But unicorns are rare, even in a Changed world - and the power of their magic is highly prized.
A necromancer in New York City covets that power and will stop at nothing to posess Ariel, dead or alive. Sought by bounty hunters both human and inhuman, Pete and Ariel decide to make a stand against their enemy - and journey to confront the dark sorcerer in the ruined heart of the city he has made his own twisted kingdom.
I'll be honest and admit that I ended up abandoning Ariel about half-way through the book. That said...
When I bought the book, back at the beginning of September, I thought it looked really promising. After all, there were review quotes by S. M. Stirling and Patricia Briggs on the cover, and they're two authors I really like. Not to mention, the storyline seemed fairly similar to that of Dies The Fire, another book I've really enjoyed.
When I started reading Ariel, it seemed really neat too. However, I kept finding little things that niggled at the storyline such as: Five years, and the stores are still useful resources for things such as food? Surely others had the same ideas you did Pete. Not to mention, wouldn't even canned things have gone bad?
Still able to find clothes and shoes in decent condition? Same point as above. It seems that the introduction of magic has done a fair amount for pollution and some of those problems. A third is that there seems to be very little evidence for the destruction caused by the Change. Yes there are the abandoned things that no longer work: cars, boats etc, but there seems to be little else.
I just couldn't find myself connecting to the characters to any great extent either.
On the other hand, the author's note at the end of the book (yes, I did skip to the end, once I'd figured I was abandoning the story) was extremely interesting. In it, Steven Boyett detailed the process of writing Ariel, and also the changes in his thoughts about the book over the years since it was first published back in 1983.
I did like the descriptions of learning to fight with a sword.
Overall, I just didn't feel that the book "worked" the way Dies The Fire did, and I couldn't stop comparing the two books. Others may well have a different opinion though.