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Review: Dark Moon by David Gemmell

Dark MoonDark Moon by David Gemmell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very tight and well-paced epic told over only one volume. It lacks bloat and tells its tale economically.

The characters are well-differentiated and have realistic motives and histories. Dace/ Tarantio start off as an intriguing pair but having their origin explained away as a result of childhood trauma feels a bit pat and (given the number of similar books written about the same time about multiple personalities and repressed memories) pandering to popular tastes. I did enjoy the possibility of future stories that was left open by the conclusion of this story though. Karis came across as a totally believable character: tough as nails but with a softer side that didn’t feel two-dimensional or patronising. Other characters were equally well-written, especially Duvodas and the dilemmas faced by him with his vow of pacifism and the circumstances that lead him to break that, and Duke Albreck who I felt was only a few shades away from being a villain in some other books – the idea of a character who imposes a wall between themselves and people who could make them vulnerable is pretty much the theme of this book and it spills out into other books after this. It’s just that in later books these characters are more likely to be split down the middle of heroes and villains whereas previously they were more likely to be the villain.

I had mixed feelings about the healing of Shira: in part because of the whole “handicapped person can only live as a whole person” idea isn’t really played out here: she’s accepted that her leg was healed badly after her accident and doesn’t let it affect her life except to make her falling in love with Duvodas more consequential to them both. I really didn’t feel that it added anything to the book except to highlight how fab the Oltor Prime was. And her fate felt a bit fridge-like, to be honest.

The worldbuilding is great, too: most of Mr Gemmell’s books have had a generic alt-medieval setting with some mental and occult powers added as a magical element. This is a rare outing where he gives us fantastical creatures with their own cultures and histories and while it feels a little tentative in places, it’s great fun to read about intelligent monsters with cultures of their own, as well as being a pleasure to not have to deal with elves and goblins again.

In summary, this is a rare singleton from Gemmell. There are clues to further stories and developments for these characters but we never got them. Part of me is disappointed but I’m always happy when a story finishes and I want to hear more about the characters: it means the author has done their job properly.

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~ by stuffianlikes on January 29, 2017 .