||This book left me without much opinion
whatsoever, except for another less-than-satisfying ending.
There was a neat twist close to the end of
the book, which made it more interesting, but for the most part, the
book was really dull. None of the questions that I raised at the end of
my review for Triumph of the Darksword were even addressed, which is
another disappointment. It appears that everybody actually was evacuated
from Thimhallan, and that the magic was not dispersed throughout the
Universe, as had been described. The Well of Life was merely capped. The
people of Thimhallan have been relocated to Earth, but are still in
denial, which they have been fostering for twenty years.
Yet even though magic wasn't released
to all, the duuk-tsarith managed to collect some so that it can be used
on Earth. How, since they say no catalyst has been able to give Life
since Thimhallan fell?
I wonder if my antipathy towards this
book is simply the result of expectations. I don't know what I expected
from this story, but what I read was certainly far from it. The authors
tried to give this a mixed science fiction and fantasy feel, and I
believe that they failed. The people of Thimhallan have experienced at
least some of Earth's technology. Spaceships are used to go to the
observation post on Thimhallan. Saryon uses an aircar to travel to see
Joram, and lasers are in evidence.
The villains in this book are those who
practice the Dark Arts. When magic was "released", the people who fed
off of Death (as opposed to Life) gained some magic back, since they had
been abandoned by Merlyn centuries ago. They are personified by their
leader, Kevon Smythe. There are other villains, the alien Hch'nyv who
are intent on wiping out humanity. Everybody believes that the Darksword
is the key to destroying these aliens, as even the priests of the
Hch'nyv, we are told, know that the sword is a danger.
After being visited by Smythe, Joram
forged a new Darksword to protect himself. How he thought it would
protect him is unknown, since it was not infused with Life like his old
This story takes place in the first
person narrative, something that I am growing less and less fond of.
This allows the authors to make some concessions that they would have
otherwise not been able to make, and I think that is a problem.
Everything is seen form one side, though Reuven also gets input from other
people. What I really don't like is Reuven taking credit for writing the
first three books in the Darksword Trilogy. This means that some of the
events were open to interpretation, and that they could rewrite some of
it as they pleased, simply by saying that Reuven was wrong, or that his
sources were wrong. Still, it allows for a touch of our world to be seen
through his eyes.
The best part of the book comes very
early on, when Saryon and Reuven are visited by Mosiah, now a
duuk-tsarith. He can use magic, and even hides them within a fold in
time. I loved their discussions about the psychology of the people from
Thimhallan. I really wonder why only the enforcers managed to gather any
magic, since the other people were like batteries ready to be recharged.
Some of the people should have re-attained their magic.
I must re-stress my dislike for
Thimhallan being another planet, as I already said at the end of the
review for Triumph of the Darksword. Menju the Sorcerer, and the others
who were cast out beyond the Border must have been picked up by Earth
Forces. Why did he have to search for 40 years to find it again, even
with the Border up? Didn't Earth Forces wonder about the people they
would occasionally pick up, who must have been confused by technology?
Saryon is convinced to go see Joram, if
only to get the man out of the way of the encroaching aliens, since
Thimhallan is now a colony of Earth, and therefore a target. Reuven, who
is mute, immediately falls in love with Joram's daughter, who is nearly
as old as he is. This is strange, since we were told in the last book
that 10 Earth years pass for every Thimhallan year (though it didn't make
sense then, and I suspect this book has it right). I have trouble
believing this was because of the magical Border, as in the other
Timeline, Eliza was the same age, and the Border had been rebuilt.
The Dark magic users (who feed off
Death instead of Life, and would love to have the Hch'nyv torture and
kill humanity) arrive, and try to
take the Darksword by force, though Eliza and Reuven managed to
inadvertently steal it beforehand. Joram and Saryon are captured, and
Mosiah is defeated in battle, though he manages to escape. They take the
Darksword to the city Zith-el in hopes of making a trade, even though
giving the Darksword over would end up enslaving and killing them all.
This is where Scylla enters. Though it
isn't revealed until the end, she is one of the magic users from
centuries ago, when people could still see through time. Her people saw
the threat of the aliens, and saw only one chance to save humanity. They
disappeared, and tried to influence time to give them that chance.
Though it is never mentioned, I have to believe that more than just
Scylla survived. She and Mosiah fall almost instantly in love, though
this romance is barely given any time at all, and I don't see it.
So Scylla sends Reuven and Mosiah
through to a time where Joram died at the hands of the Executioner
instead of Simkin, and where the war between magic users and technology
went a little differently, though the Well of Life was still plugged,
but then unplugged,
and people had to live with less magic. The time hopscotching was quite
interesting, and definitely one of the best parts of the book.
When they are about to be caught by
Smythe and his followers, they are sent to that other timeline, where
Saryon leads them to where he hid the Darksword after Joram's death.
They recover it from the Dragon who was guarding it, but the
duuk-tsarith were following them, and wanted the Darksword for
themselves. Since they were the most powerful of magic users on
Thimhallan, they deposed King Garald and made the world into a police
state, though they didn't have much time as rulers. Their mere presence
in the Dragon's cave destroyed the charm, and so the Dragon killed them
all, and the Darksword wasn't recovered to save humanity, which was
wiped out. Those duuk-tsarith were pretty stupid, since they must have
known the danger. Why didn't they simply wait until the group left the
When Saryon describes how he found the
cave in the alternate timeline, this was definitely a writer's cheat,
since he goes off on tangents which let us know what happened during the
intervening time; what would have happened if things went differently.
Although it was interesting, and plausible, he gave away much too much
information to account for Mosiah's "hit on the head".
The most welcome turn of events in this
book was the return of Simkin. He was such a joy to read in the Trilogy,
and he was no different here, except that since he was dead, he could
only take the form of inanimate objects. He repeats some of the humor
from the Trilogy, but also has some new stuff to say. He really livens
up an otherwise dull tale.
In the instant when they were all being
killed by the Dragon of Night, the group was moved to another timeline,
where they managed to rescue Joram, with Simkin's help. They fly the
charmed Dragon to the tomb of Merlyn, where their salvation supposedly
awaits. The climax of the book was really starting to get exciting by
this point, but when Smythe attacked them again at the tomb, it ran out
of steam quickly. I liked Simkin's impersonation of the Darksword,
enraging Smythe. The spirit of Merlyn then brought Joram back form the
dead, took the Darksword (Simkin), and moved all the people from the
Grove, and in the orbiting spaceships to a far off place, where the
Hch'nyv wouldn't find them for millions of years.
Huh? Although it was an unexpected
twist that is much more realistic than the Darksword being able to fend
off an army of alien ships with far superior technology, it's not by
much. Where did the millions of people in the spaceships come from?
Thimhallan was supposed to be attacked before Earth. Yet here were all
these Earth people ready to have the Darksword as their saviour. How did
they get such an evacuation force there in that time? Who decided who
was to be left behind? Actually, I don't really care. By this time, the
book was disappointing to me, so one more disappointment didn't detract
I must state, however, that the book
was still really well written. The characters were fairly
well-developed, even though I never truly became engaged with them. The
plotting was very tight, for what it's worth. Every time I raised a
question about what was happening, the authors saw fit to answer them
only a few pages later.
Moving to a new setting allows the
authors to continue the adventures of these people, if they want to.
However, I don't think I will tag along for the ride, if they do. The
authors dedicated the book to the fans who kept asking what happens
next? This book didn't really answer that question. Yet it allows the
question to be asked again, in another context... and so now what
There were things that I liked about
this book, though they were annoyingly rare. I happen to like a complex
plot like time-hopping. I loved Simkin's return. I was never a big fan
of Joram, so the fact that he barely appears in this book doesn't bother
me. The ending of this book is no better than the ending of the last
one. In fact, I think I prefer the last ending. At least it offered hope
that magic could be replenished. This one offers that same hope, but
with the way it was treated here, I don't expect much. So ends the
Darksword adventures, as far as I'm concerned.