(1951- ) Scottish writer, son of a French-Mauritian father and a Scottish mother. He wrote sf before switching to fantasy in The Ice King (1986; vt Burial Rites 1987 US) with Allan Scott, writing together as Michael Scot. Although set in the present, the novel draws extensively on its authors' researches into Viking culture, which had earlier given rise to the nonfiction collaboration The Hammer and the Cross (1981). The same researches helped provide background material for MSR's Winter of the World trilogy: The Anvil of Ice (1986), The Forge in the Forest (1987) and The Hammer of the Sun (1988). In a world threatened by an Ice Age unleashed by powers inimical to humanity, an apprentice Smith acquires various magical Weapons; his wanderings take him into more fertile lands and then across the ocean to a final conflict which will settle the destiny of humankind. The less earnest Spiral trilogy – Chase the Morning (1990), The Gates of Noon (1992) and Cloud Castles (1993) – establishes the real world as the "core" of a complex array of historical and legendary Alternate Realities which intersect in such a way as to hurl the three central characters through a series of supernatural encounters, mostly involving eccentric juxtapositions of ancient and modern apparatus. The first two volumes employ exotic geographical settings, but the third returns to a politically unstable near-future Europe in order to construct a hectic modern Grail-quest and deal with the Matter of Britain.
The Spell of Empire: The Horns of Tartarus (1992), another collaboration with Scott, is an amusing Picaresque set in an alternative Europe in which a Scandinavia-based Nibelung Empire confronts a Decadent Mediterranean-based Tyrrhennian Empire. The plot deploys three musketeers in an exuberantly playful fashion. The Lord of Middle Air (1994) is a historical fantasy starring the reputed 13th-century wizard Michael Scot, whom MSR claims as an ancestor of both himself and Sir Walter Scott. The Walter Scot who is the novel's hero reluctantly accepts his kinsman's aid in fighting a powerful sorcerer, venturing into Faerie to obtain armaments adequate to his task.
MSR is an accomplished writer of action-adventure fantasies. He is refreshingly eclectic in his choice of materials and is capable of wringing new twists from traditional sources. [BS]
Michael Scott Rohan