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12 November 2011

This is the pen name for Eileen Joyce (Joy) Rutter, born January 13th 1945 in the UK. Joy Chant is best known for her three fantasy books in The Vandarei saga. Chant’s first book, RED MOON AND BLACK MOUNTAIN appeared in England in 1971 from Allen and Unwin and won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award the next year. (It was published in 1972 in America by Ballentine Books.)This was followed by The Gray Mane of Morning (1977) and When Voiha Wakes (in 1983).
The thing that caught my attention was Chant’s explanation that the Vandarei books grew out of her childhood world based on imagined games and elaborate legends that she told to herself about her world. This world started when she was around six or seven judging by her account, and, for another ten years, continued to settle into what it would become. Red Moon, Black Mountain was marketed as a book for children although it was very readable by adults, but since the main characters were all children, apparently Allen and Unwin decided to list it this way. It’s what I think of as a ‘sidestep into another world’ book, involving and interesting and in a fully realized world. But it was the second in the Vandarei sagas that I found the best of her work.
Gray Mane of Morning was runner-up for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1981 and placed tenth in the Locus Poll Award. It is a depiction of the struggle between a settled people and a nomadic one, and it mirrored in Vandarei many of the genocides enacted in our world under such circumstances. The Khentorei are horse-riding nomads whose tribes inhabit the realm of the plains. The Kalnat, known as The Golden People, have a city, Malde. Those nomad tribes that camp on the plain’s edge nearest Malde pay tribute to the city’s rulers. This has led the Kalnat to believe themselves vastly superior, and entitled to take what they want from the nomads.
Mor’anh and his sister Nai are priest and priestess of the Alnei tribe, and when they are two of those who go to pay tribute Nai is seen by one of the Kalnat nobles and forcibly taken back to the city as a sexual slave to the young noble, this despite the fact that even under his own laws he is not entitled to do so and she is the ‘Luck’ of her tribe. Mor’anh subsequently meets her, is captured, beaten, and escapes with the aid of his sister’s friend, the young half-sister of Nai’s owner, and who who later finds sanctuary with the tribe, telling Mor’anh that her brother murdered Nai’s baby.
The story continues with the slow growing disillusionment of Mor’anh over the tribe’s relationship with the city folk, his inheriting the leadership of his tribe when the Kalnat murder his father, and his decision that the tribe will refuse to pay tribute ever again.
The nobles of Malde decide to punish the nomads, but they have overestimated their own fighting abilities, and the books ends with the destruction of Malde’s army and of the city, Nai escapes the burning city to return to her lover, her brother, and her tribe.
There are a number of threads in this work, it is by no means a simple straight-line tale. I find it a pity that Chant never did more than the three books in this fantasy series, the background is a richly realised world, with fascinating people and a really wide capacity for a number of books to be set within it.
Chant’s third in this series appeared five years later. When Voiha Wakes, won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1984.
Chant’s other major work is The High Kings (1983), illustrated by George Sharp, designed by David Larkin and edited by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is a reference work on the King Arthur legends and the Matter of Britain incorporating retellings of the legends. The High Kings, took second place in the Locus Poll Award, won the 1984 World Fantasy Special Award for Professional Work and was also a nominee of the Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book.
Joy Chant has also written numerous articles on fantasy fiction.

Bibliography
Fantasy novels
House of Kendreth series
Red Moon and Black Mountain (1970)
The Grey Mane of Morning (1977)
When Voiha Wakes (1983)

The High Kings (1983, George Allen & Unwin) (with, Ian and Betty Ballantine, George Sharp and David Larkin, in collaboration), rev. ed. (1989, George Allen & Unwin)

Nonfiction
Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers (1971)

Short stories (known)
“The Coming of the Starborn” (1983)

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