Thursday, February 18, 2016

Black Sun Rising

When True Night Falls

Crown of Shadows

by C.S. Friedman

The first book in this fantasy trilogy originally came out in 1991. I read it based on a recommendation from a library patron. I've gone through fantasy reading phases before but hadn't read any in a while, and this series got me kind of back into it.

In the prologue, a ship full of Earthlings is marooned on a distant planet; strange horrors haunt the night, not just in their dreams; a rogue crew member commits a desperate and inexplicable act of terrorism... more about that (much, much) later.

Fast forward who knows how many years, and the books have great world-building and compelling characters. The usual tropes of dark "magic" versus more benign forces, man versus nature, the price of power, the power of love and faith — and of pain, retribution, and loss — are freshened up with a brash almost-anti-hero, a seductive villain, a planet suffused with strange forces, and, most especially, a unique twist on how the "magic" works, who can access it and how. The setting is unusual too, being on the one hand future-y and on another planet but with an orphaned and more primitive medieval-y culture that one expects from fantasy fiction.

Each book repeats, in its own way, the motif of a struggle to heal the aftermath of a terrible transgression and trauma, and then the trilogy as a whole closes the loop with a character who makes the ultimate sacrifice to defeat the most powerful evil. Or does it? I sort of felt like the crashed spaceship of the prologue never really got picked up again, even though certain things were strongly implied, and even though I made my own conclusions... but maybe my confusion was partly due to the fact I read the three books over several years, so I surely forgot things and probably missed some references.

Anyway, I heartily recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy fiction or wants to give it a try.

No comments: