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Grass cover Grass by Sherri S. Tepper

Published by Bantam

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Grass is a world with a deadly secret. As its name implies, it is a world of enormous praries, of endless grasslands. It is the home of a group of humans who settled there to escape the stifling hold of Sanctity, the powerful religious organization that has curtailed human progress.

These people are divided into a number of aristocratic families, distinguished by the particle "bon" before their surnames, who live on grand estancias amidst the prarie grasses, far from the spaceport at Commons. Their primary obsession is the Hunt, a strange ritual in which they ride huge native creatures known as Hippae and are accompanied by other native creatures they call Hounds. The quarry of their Hunt is yet another native beast, which they call foxen.

They would be just as happy if the outside universe would simply forget them. A plague is raging among the worlds, and the leaders of Sanctity cannot simply ignore the strange fact that Grass alone among worlds remains untouched. If humanity is to survive, the reason must be discovered. Therefore they decide to send an ambassador, someone who will have a hope of cracking the aristocrats' Hunt-crazed culture.

Thus Marjorie Westriding Yrarier, horsewoman and wife to an aristocratic diplomat of Old Earth, comes to Grass. There she discovers that the Hippae are far more than they seem, and the aloof aristocrats of Grass are in some kind of sinister mind-thrall. But can she unravel the tangled skien of secrets before it is too late?

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This review posted May 23, 1999

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