Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Emerson, Ru

(1944-    ) US writer, who also writes as Roberta Cray. She began publishing fantasy with her first novel, The Princess of Flames (1986), which like most of her work combines elements of the family romance and of Dynastic Fantasy. In this tale (as in several of her other novels), young members of a royal family are deposed or otherwise forced into exile, where they accumulate Companions and/or Plot Coupons in a Fantasyland and return in triumph. Here (as later) the influence of William Shakespeare can be felt; the title refers to the use of the Tarot throughout.

RE's first sequence, the Tales of Nedao series – To the Haunted Mountains (1987), In the Caves of Exile (1988) and On the Seas of Destiny (1989) – again features a princess in exile who soon becomes proficient with weapons, finds a Polder where she and her folk can become strong again and leads her people to eventual triumph, but this time the story is narrated by a Cat. The Night-Threads series – The Calling of the Three (1990), The Two in Hiding (1991), One Land, One Duke (1992), The Craft of Light (1993) and The Art of the Sword (1994) – marketed for a YA audience, introduces three young people from Earth via a Portal into a fantasyland whose rightful rulers have, once again, been deposed. "Night-Threads" is a kind of usable Magic. Various characters find they have Talents. All set about to restore the Land to its proper status.

Of RE's singletons, two are of interest. Spell Bound (1990) is set in a Land-of-Fable 16th-century Germany, in whose numerous principalities magic continues to work; in a complex plot, a Witch avenges her mother's death through a potentially malign re-creation of the Cinderella story, but the victims who act out this Twice-Told experience live happily ever after. The Sword and the Lion (1993) as by Roberta Cray is set in a historical-seeming deep past: it deals with the interaction of a Goddess figure and the folk on whose side, in a war against a patriarchal conquering horde, she proves intermittently helpful. [JC]

other works: Beauty and the Beast: Masques * (1990), tied to the tv series Beauty and the Beast; The Bard's Tale: Fortress of Frost and Fire * (1993) with Mercedes Lackey, tied to the Shared-World Bard's Tale sequence; Midwife's Nightcap (1994 chap dos).

Ru Emerson


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.