Slaves of the Mastery
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'The juxtaposition of "Slaves" and "Mastery" in the title of Nicholson's complex novel prefigures the dualities of his fictional landscape. From these apparent contradictions Nicholson constructs a fantasy structured on the motif of the quest (here a sister's for her twin brother) and given expression in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of movement, music and colour. There is an exotic cast of hundreds and there are numerous vividly realised set pieces. There is also, however, some very unappealingly sadistic violence, particularly in the form of public burnings, and an occasional over-emphasis on male physical arrogance.'