Author: Glen Cook
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Release Date: November 23, 2010
Fans of Glen Cook and the Darkwar trilogy, it is time to rejoice. No longer will you need to hunt down the individual copies of Doomstalker, Warlock, and Ceremony when the urge to read a fantasy sci-fi hybrid hits. Night Shade Books has released the three novels in one handy tome.
And what a tome it is. At nearly six hundred pages, this is a behemoth of a book, literally heavy reading. But Night Shade Books didn’t skimp on the publishing costs. Even with my acrobatic reading attempts to hold the book at a comfortable angle and flexing of the book spine that would crack the spines of regular dime store novels, the book held up. Only a slight line on the spine of the book would reveal to the well trained bibliophile that I read these novels. But fear not, gentle reader, this isn’t a fluff piece written after a quick scan of the back of the book. I read all three of these novels.
Where to begin? Glen Cook and I don’t have the best of relationships, especially for two complete strangers. My experience with his works involves getting my hopes up after reading a fascinating blurb on the back of the book, followed by a reading session that involves pauses to reread the back of the book to make certain that the blurb actually follows the storyline. I’ve been hurt before by Mr. Cook. Sure, it might not be his fault that whomever was hired to write the blurbs for his novels is a master of embellishment. Maybe if the back of the books read “Some stuff takes place in space,” I would go in with a low enough standard to not be so severely disappointed that I beg my physicist husband to build a time machine and retrieve the hours I spent reading said book back.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, Glen Cook is a brilliant writer. But he can be a bit too technical and dry for the sort of fantasy-slash-science-fiction worlds he is attempting to create for the reader. If he were a straight on science fiction writer, the blurbs on the back of his novels would probably read “Some stuff takes place in space.” But throw in fantasy and you end up with blurbs that paint brilliant worlds that I want to escape to faster than I can scurry through a wardrobe or board a train to a boarding school in Scotland.
Where was I? Oh right, review of the DarkWar trilogy.
The DarkWar trilogy was originally released in three separate volumes between 1985 and 1986. This trilogy was written only three to four years after Starfishers, aka the trilogy that broke my heart and soul. However only reading the first chapter of Doomstalker will show the reader how much stronger Mr. Cook’s ability to mesh fantasy and science fiction had become over that short time span.
DarkWar is the tale of Marika. Marika is meth, a canine slash human hybrid for lack of a better term. (Think Thundercats but with dogs that stayed on their home world.) The novels lay out the entire life of Marika, as she grows from a young pup with powers that frighten even the most powerful members of her pack, into a woman without a family or a home, and finally a powerful leader obsessed with controlling space and a destiny she can not avoid nor put off any longer.
This is the tale that made me give Glen Cook another chance. He created this fantastic, literally fantastic, world that I found myself wanting to escape into and explore. I want to run with Marika and her litter mates on their first hunt with the huntresses of their pack. To feel the terror and adrenaline as her pack’s homes are attacked by nomads. I want to witness the terror as Marika’s powers become too much for those around her to handle. I want to explore the creepy yet enthralling sequestered convents of the Silth.
Marika is not your classic forgivable protagonist. Mr. Cook took a risk in creating a character that not only is hard to empathize with but you downright hate at moments because of the choices she makes. Imagine if J.K. Rowling decided to focus the Harry Potter series on Voldemort instead, or Chris Carter decided The X-Files would be best from The Cigarette Smoking Man’s point of view.
From the first chapter of Doomstalker through to the last sentence of Ceremony, this was a hard book to put down. In the end, I found myself satisfied with the tale Mr. Cook had painted for me.
If you are in the mood for a very good example of how to write fantasy/sci-fi hybrid fiction right, pick up a copy of DarkWar by Glen Cook.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars