Birthday Reviews: Pamela Dean’s “Paint the Meadow with Delight”

Birthday Reviews: Pamela Dean’s “Paint the Meadow with Delight”

Cover by Darrell K. Sweet
Cover by Darrell K. Sweet

Pamela Dean was born on January 18, 1953. Dean has published the Secret Country trilogy as well as three stand-alone novels. In the 1980s, she was involved in the Liavek series of shared world anthologies, contributing stories to each of the five volumes as well as the title poem for the fourth volume. She has been nominated for the Mythopoeic Award twice, for her novels Tam Lin and The Dubious Hills.

Her story “Paint the Meadows with Delight” appeared in Will Shetterly and Emma Bull’s anthology Liavek: Wizard’s Row in 1987, and was reprinted in 2015 in Patricia Wrede and Pamela Dean’s Points of Departure: Liavek Stories.

Although set in a shared universe, Pamela Dean’s “Paint the Meadows with Delight” stands on its own. The Benedictis are a large Acrivain family living in exile in the city of Liavek. While the father attends political meetings, the rest of the family lives in wait for the day they can return to their native country. One of the daughters, Jehane, is convinced the Acrivain god Acrilat has turned his back on the family because they have left their native land. The result is that the family is in turmoil and one of the sons, Deleon, has disappeared.

Jehane is determined to restore her family to their lost happiness and seeks out one of Liavek’s wizards to help. Jehane’s plan isn’t particular well thought out, in either her goals or her mission. She seeks both to have Acrilat leave her family alone and also to have the family able to return to an Acrivain that is politically welcoming to them. These goals, along with her search for her missing brother, take her on a miniature quest through Liavek, visiting Granny Carry, the Magician, and, at the Magician’s insistence, the House of Responsible Life, and Silvertop, another magician.

In the end, the success of her quest, or even who helped her achieve it, is questionable. The most that can be said is that Jehane may have been able to reconnect on some level with her younger sister, Nerissa, who she also learned has been quite active in ways that Jehane had not even suspected.

While the story can be read and enjoyed on its own merits, its place in the shared-world universe gives it quite a bit of background depth and its structure as a quest around Liavek allows Dean to touch on the characters and concepts created by the other authors.

Reviewed in its original appearance in the anthology Liavek: Wizard’s Row, edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, Ace Books, 1987.


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a fifteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Big White Men—Attack!” in Little Green Men—Attack! Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 5 times as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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A. Walter

I’ve been meaning to read the Liavek shared world series for quite some time, along with the Wildcards, Merovingen Nights and Thieve’s World shared world series. I believe I have most of all those series, so I have no excuse but lack of proper time management.

Have you read and enjoyed those other series I mentioned, Steven?

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