Very disappointing: I don't know why our characters were in the book at all,
since they didn't get to do anything. However, there were enough good
moments, and although it ends rather depressingly, there is at least some hope
for the future of the world.
I found this concluding book of the Darksword
trilogy to be very dull. I was not interested in the battle plans for the
Field of Conquest, and I thought that once Joram entered the battle, it would
get more interesting. Not so. I think this had to do with the style
of the book. It was written in an over-arching way, telling us of the
grand things that happened, rather than giving it from a character standpoint.
Sometimes this works well, but here it did not.
When I finished the last book, I was worried about not having the gentle and
devoted Saryon along for the ride. Fortunately, my fears about him going
missing from this book were unwarranted. Unfortunately, he doesn't get
much exposure. Neither does Mosiah, whom I thought would have a major
role, based on the opening chapters. Aside from throwing a tantrum, he
doesn't even go after vengeance from Simkin, whom he still believes betrayed
them in the Grove after the party in Merilon.
Mosiah gave us some much-needed character insight before the battle at the
Field of Conquest, but he would have had to become Prince Garald's aide to give
us the perspective that we needed. I did not really like Garald in this
book. After a great appearance in Doom of the Darksword, I was really
anticipating meeting this character again, but I was sorely disappointed. He
had looked like
a person willing to do everything for his people, but here he was not portrayed
I liked the compassionate Joram at the beginning of this book, and I even
liked the way he took command partway through. But we didn't see enough of
him, either. I like the way he wanted to put Saryon out of his misery with
the darksword. But it makes me think that any Dead person could have
removed the darksword from Saryon's hands. In the
previous book, it was
explained that only the Dead could wield the weapon. That is presumably
why Joram was able to remove it. There are other Dead in Thimhallan;
surely Emperor Xavier could have had one of them take out. They would not
have been as Dead as Joram, but according to Saryon, Joram was the only truly
Dead person ever born in Thimhallan, so the Dead of the Iron Wars must have been
of similar magic-skills as the Technologists. Surely Xavier knew about the
Technologists' texts, and where to find them. He could have come to the
same conclusions as Saryon.
But then again, Xavier appears to have lost his edge. He was so
sinister at the end of the last book. Here, he is like a raving lunatic.
I am glad we didn't see the Field of Conquest from his eyes. But seeing it
from Garald's eyes wasn't much better. I am not clear on the concept of
this battlefield. It is said that nobody dies -then why do the wizards
practice spells of such magnitude? Centaurs certainly kill their victims,
as do the giants and the arrows of the Technologists. And all of these
were on the Field.
But it doesn't really matter, does it, because people do die, from the tanks
of the people from our world, from Beyond. And who can't enjoy a test of
magic against technology? I am sure that magic is superior, for those who
know how to fight. But technology does not get tired as quickly as a
magician does, especially when he doesn't have a catalyst nearby. Still,
because it was told from the narrator's point of view, it was less interesting
than the similar parts where Mosiah discovered the enemy and their lasers,
guided by infrared sensors.
It seems that I was mistaken when I thought the book takes place in the late
20th century. It is probably more like the late 22nd century, for people
have traveled to the stars, other worlds, and even committed genocide there.
But the technology doesn't seem to have advanced much, for the tanks still
travel on treads, though the soldiers use lasers.
This brings me to the question of the Border. Where is it? When
Joram emerged, why did he arrive in a green field, when the army had to arrive
in spaceships? It is obviously another planet, but the Border seems to
defy space, then. I can accept that, but the question remains how did
Joram cross back through the Border into Thimhallan, when the tanks had to use
spaceships; he certainly didn't. It also begs the question of how Merlyn and the other original
magic users found their way to this place in the beginning. The authors
use the phrase "they burned their ships upon arriving", which implies that they
either traveled to Thimhallan by boat, or they had the capability to build
magical spaceships! Wow, that would have been incredible!
My next problem is the character of Menju the Sorcerer. He has been in
the world Beyond for forty years (4 years on Thimhallan), and he is crazy with
rage and bitterness at having been cast Beyond and losing his magic. When
Joram re-enters Thimhallan, he breaks the magical Border, and allows the forces
from Beyond to enter as well. Menju takes control of the army, and the
pliable Major, and plans to eradicate the population of Thimhallan, leaving some
breeding women and catalysts behind. This makes the struggle one for the
Universe, not just Joram's world. It brings the tension level down, and
makes for a much less interesting character than if he wasn't power-mad.
I wonder what kind of peaceful conflict of ideology we could have had if
Menju was not here. His only reason for existing is to give armed conflict
to the book. What if the tanks had arrived and been mistaken on the Field
of Conquest? If the magicians then attacked them, and they were acting in
self-defense, breaking Menju's hold would not have stopped the battles. As
it is, one side is bitter, the other side is scared. What if both sides
were bitter and scared?
In any case, that doesn't happen, and the Major, afraid that the wizards will
take the fight to them, launch a preemptive strike against Merilon.
According to the map, Merilon is quite a distance from the mountains, even if it
could be seen from the Font. What kind of watch were the duuk-tsarith
keeping on the enemy that allowed them to get all the way to Merilon without
being noticed? From the Field of Conquest, it would likely take months to
get to Merilon -days at least. It took Simkin and Saryon weeks to get from
the Outland borders to the village of the Technologists in the
first book, and they even used a
When we finally get to the main characters, halfway through the book, they
convince Joram to take the role of leader, since Xavier died in the initial
onslaught (thankfully, though it was a shock). The character interaction was more interesting than the grand
battles, but I kept wishing they would actually do something!
Fortunately, we have Simkin, who is always a hoot. Like the rest of the
cast, he doesn't appear for a good portion of the book, but when he does, he is
hilarious. The "game" he referred to at the end of the
last book is
likely his plot to get to the worlds Beyond without losing his magic.
He has probably done all he can in this world, and wants some new experiences.
I believe him when he says he was there when the Prophecy was spoken,
centuries ago. Maybe he's even older than that. No wonder he is so
bored with everything that happens, and would betray his best friend if it would
make things more interesting. He would do anything for a diversion.
But I wonder how he could pull it off. Did he ever fake his own death?
Have people known the Simkin that we do for generations, or did he change names
and appearances every thirty years? Otherwise no doubt the duuk-tsarith
would have at least suspected something.
And so when he appears in the enemy camp, he plays both sides -he plays a
neutral, a real neutral, who tells everybody all the plans that he was privy to, in
order to make things "more fair". And his reward? Menju tells him he
will bring Simkin back to his world in exchange for betraying Joram. So he
lays the trap, giving Joram hope that his wife, Gwendolyn can be cured at the
Temple of the Necromancer. Gwen does not live in the world of the living
since she passed into Beyond. She talks to the dead, and has hilarious
conversations with them, but cannot communicate their messages truly to those
who need them. I don't know what the mice in the attic represent -people,
obviously, but dying from what?
Simkin also finds out that Menju plans to betray him, though, so he switches
places with Joram, binding the young man. We the readers don't know this,
but the signs were obvious in hindsight. When he entered the garden of the
Necromancers, I suspected that he knew of the trap, and so didn't wear the
darksword for some reason. I only realized that it was Simkin when he
decided to lounge against the altar in anticipation of something, ignoring Gwen.
It was a really neat move, and nearly tricked me as it did Saryon.
Unfortunately, Simkin meets a rather unsatisfying ending. Bishop Vanya
knew about the trap Menju laid for Joram, and sent his Executioner to deal with
both of them, ridding Thimhallan of the two menaces. Using a revolver to
make it look like Menju killed Joram, the Executioner fires the shots that take
Simkin into the world of the dead. And he is barely mentioned after that.
I thought he would at least communicate with Gwen.
There is a pretty cool battle between the Executioner and his opponents, but
it ends in a cliché with Menju killing him, but being killed at the same time,
when both Saryon and Joram, not to mention innocent Gwen, all survive. I
didn't really enjoy the fight between the dragon and the cruiser, which left
both destroyed, as well.
And Joram's purpose in the prophecy? He is to release the magic into
the universe again by unplugging the Font, breaking the giant Darkstone altar at
the top of the source of all magic. This of course,
destroys the world as the residents of Thimhallan know it. Everybody is
left bereft of magic, as it disperses evenly through the universe.
Eventually, it will concentrate in vessels that can harbor it properly, like
most of those residents. But for the moment, they are helpless.
And speaking of Gwen, it is very convenient that she returns to normal after
Joram frees the magic. She has performed her task, even though she wasn't
born to it. She finishes the prophecy that I knew was missing some part,
by saying that Joram could also save the world in addition to destroying it.
But that doesn't matter, except to give Saryon back his faith, because Joram does destroy their world, though it will be reborn in time. She
told Joram what he had to do to "save" the world, as well. I don't like
the way she turned to necromancy only to serve the purposes of the story,
instead of through a natural progression. And giving her back her sanity
is probably a gift of the Almin, but I still don't appreciate it. I wonder
if she loses her magical ability to speak with the dead, as everybody else lost
The ending leaves me with some hope that the world Garald and the others knew
could survive. Removing handcuffs from all the people being "relocated for
their own good" is a good start. Self-government is another very important
aspect. I don't like the forced relocation, even if it is a realistic
situation. Might Thimhallan return in time to the calm place it once was
eventually, when the magic settles down? More likely, the Powers That Be
don't want anybody there so that they can study it to no end. But I wonder
how much we can trust the Major's word, since he was so effectively steamrolled
by Menju early in the book.
On some miscellaneous notes, I can't help wonder if we were missing something
at the end. We got all of Joram's battle, but nothing from the battle of
Merilon. We only learn afterwards that Mosiah was critically injured, and
that somehow Garald's father dies -how, when he was so far away from Merilon?
All we get is a bunch of flashes in the sun from the vantage point of the
Temple. Also, it doesn't seem possible that a year's worth of
technological and forge-made weapons, and battle training could be repeated in a
single day, not to mention creating another Forge. It took a year to train in Sharakan -what good will a day make
in Merilon, which is admittedly much more comfortable with its distinct classes?
I suppose this proves to Garald that the people of Merilon are just as good, in
the end, as those in Sharakan. When it comes to giving their best, the
battle Garald was initially fighting was not really important.
Why did the authors have Simkin tell us that Joram was winning the battle at
the end of the last book, when he left the world? Is it important, or was Simkin simply mistaken in thinking this
was ominous sign? Joram made a
sacrifice, just as Saryon did.
As a curiosity, I wonder if anybody survived the round-up at the end.
Surely they could not find every single person in Thimhallan. I wonder if
any duuk-tsarith were left bereft of the magic in their far underground caverns,
or their hidden training areas? If they survived, they might return in a
few years, and be unaccounted-for spies and conduct hit-and-runs on their
enemies. That might be cool to read about.
It is unfortunate that in a tragedy such as this one, only the world fell
victim. Saryon made the ultimate sacrifice- and failed in his task, when
he thought he had to destroy the darksword since he also believed Joram was
dead. He should not have survived -that would have been the real tragedy
for Joram. Joram went on for far too long with a bullet in his shoulder.
At the very least, he should have sacrificed his wife. But no, we get her
back, safe and sound. It appears like all of this was the gift of the Almin to Joram, in thanks for bringing balance to the world.
These authors present God in all of their books, that I am aware of.
With the exception of the Dragonlance Saga, which looks like it is
now slowly adopting a
view of one God, the One appears in both the Death Gate Cycle, and, more
prominently, the Star of the Guardians
(especially Ghost Legion), though He disappears by the time the
Force 7 trilogy comes along. Not a complaint- just an observation.
In all, this book was quite a disappointment, though not a failure. I
was going to lower the mark a little more, but there was enough, barely, to keep
me interested in the fate of the world, at least. The Darksword is
destroyed, and Joram and Gwen will live alone (as far as they know) on
Thimhallan, since neither world wants them. Yet. I'm pretty sure he
will reappear in the much more recent fourth book in this "trilogy". Suffice
it to say that I was not happy with the way this book went, but the ending gives
me a little hope as to the eventual happiness of the next generation of