Author: Don Fenn
Book Pros
RRP $22.95
ISBN 0 9755922 6 2
Available 01 October 2005

Peter Icarus, is a personally flawed psychologist, who spends his time helping his patients whilst at the same time wrestling with his own dual problems of depression and difficult personal relationships. So when he is given the chance to travel to the alien world of Troubadour, he can think of few reasons not to accept. On this utopian orb he finds a society that is dedicated to the validation of individuals; a society, which holds personal development as its highest ideal. With his joint guides of Rain and Wind can Peter find it in himself to leave behind his past and engage with his present...?

Troubadour is Dr Don Fenn's first major novel; he currently works as a psychotherapist in California. Fenn is also an accomplished playwright and musician.

This book can be read on many levels. At its heart is a well structured science fiction story resplendent with an alien world and sadly, for this world, almost alien concepts on how to live. On a deeper level it's about one man's quest to deal with the alienation he feels in his daily life.

It is interesting that Fenn chose the title of Troubadour for his book, a clue perhaps? The original troubadours were composers and performers of a musical form, from the middle ages, who usually told a story, a fiction in which they themselves had not participated in. Whilst this book is indeed a work of fiction, the subtext of the title is surly designed to throw doubt on the voracity of the central characters account of travelling to a distant planet. Was it all a lie or, worse still, a psychotic break from years of untreated depression?

The themes of chivalry and love, which were the mainstay of the troubadours are major themes in Icarus's life as they encompass the two failings in his life - his sneaking suspicion that he is not as good a person as he could be, due to his childhood experiences, and his seemingly inability to maintain a romantic relationship. Dig a little further and you realise that the word itself comes from the Occitan (a romantic language spoken in southern France) word 'trouber' which translates as 'to find'. And this is what Icarus does: he embarks on a quest to finds many things, mostly piece of mind.

Peter's surname is also informative of his character. Icarus was the mythical son of Daedalus (wasn't that a Kate Bush Song?) Captured by King Minos, he built two wings of wax and feathers to escape. But Icarus ignored his fathers warning not to fly too near the sun. His wings melted and he fell to his death. In this case, the Troupadourian aliens can be seen as Peter's best chance of escape from his past represented by the man his mother goes to meet at the train station - his wings of possible freedom if you like. You will have to read the book to see if Peter, like Icarus, fails to fly - his quest ending in death.

So a good weighty tome which will keep you thinking for a long while. It might even give you reason to pause and think about how you are living your own life.

Charles Packer

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