Blood and Ivory: A Tapestry
is a collection of shorter works by P.C. Hodgell, all but one being part of the Kencyrath universe.
It opens with three short stories published here for the first time. The first, Hearts of Woven Shadow
, covers events surrounding the death of Jame's grandfather and the ascension of her father, Ganth, to the position of Highlord. It occurs just after the flashback scenes in To Ride a Rathorn
, and should be read after that work, since it is somewhat spoiler-y. The second, Lost Knots
, is a short letter written by Jame's great-great-grandmother Kinzi just before her murder. The third, Among the Dead
, covers Jame and Tori's childhood in the Haunted Lands with a mad father, just before Jame's casting out to the darkness. Much of this appears in previous books, especially Rathorn
, but this goes into more detail.
All three are interesting to fans, and they reveal many back-story details that have not been fully revealed yet in the main series. None are absolutely critical to understanding it, either.
Following it is Child of Darkness
, Hodgell's first Jame story; she has deemed it non-canon, "too baroque to keep". It's somewhat science-fiction. Also included is "A Matter of Honor", the short story which formed the seed of what became God Stalk
. It's the same in broad details as the similarly-named chapter in the novel, but different in the details, and is an interesting point in the development of that novel's ideas.
The Kencyrath portion of the book closes with two previously published short stories; Bones
is a fascinating one set during the God Stalk
period, while Stranger Blood
is set further ahead than the main series has yet reached. Bringing up the rear is A Ballad of the White Plague
, a Sherlock Holmes story that's "less detective than gothic", included for completeness.
Fans should buy this, because it fills in details and gives much more to speculate and wonder about. Essential if you want to participate in the mailing list discussions. Otherwise, it's not worth owning on its own; not much of it stands up by itself, and without the context of the Kencyrath series, there's little point to it.