Sunday, November 06, 2005

Books: Daggerspell and Darkspell

Quite a while ago, after I finished Journey into the Void but before I left on vacation, I started reading yet another new (for me) series of books, the Deverry series. I had never heard of the books before, but Linzy found four or five of them at a library or garage sale for a pittance and so picked them up on my behalf. The thinking was, if there are more then just a few the series can't be all bad, right?

When I was scouring the bookshelves for a non-hardcover book that I wouldn't mind if it got a little dinged up traveling around in my carry-on bag for several weeks, Daggerspell jumped out at me. Once I finished that one, I started in on the second book in the series, Darkspell. That tided me over nicely until the new Robert Jordan book was released.

I was pleasantly surprised with Daggerspell and Darkspell. Not knowing anything about them, my expectations were low, so when the books turned out to be pretty decent I was happy.

The gimmick for the Deverry books is a pretty common one in the fantasy genre, that the past recurs in cycles (see: Wheel of Time, Lord of the Isles, etc). In this case, the general background goes like this:

In the distant past, a selfish young lord makes some pretty bad decisions that end up setting off a cascading sequence of fairly horrible events. His true love ends up dying unnecessarily (along with a bunch of other characters). In his grief the young lord (who was disowned during the whole debacle) swears on his love's grave that he will not rest until he makes it up to all the people involved in their future lives. The gods accept the promise, and the young lord becomes immortal and is doomed to walk the earth until he can make things right.

This setup is not too particularly extraordinary, but the implementation is different in the Deverry books. Instead of focusing on only a particular set of characters, the book instead tracks the whole group of characters as they are reincarnated through age after age. Each time they come back in different circumstances with slightly different characteristics (although the underlying problems always remain). Depending on what happens in that age, things seem to get more or less complicated the next time around (usually more, at this point in the books).

So, while it isn't exactly an original concept, it worked pretty good for at least the first two books. The characters are fairly interesting, and it is always entertaining to watch how things unfold and determine who is who in each age. I'm not sure how well this will hold up over the whole series but for now I was enjoying it.

I didn't really have anything that I despised about the books. If I had to pick a complaint it would be that they are a touch light on the action. There are battles and magic use here and there, but for the most part the characters are kind of just roaming around. That isn't to say the books are boring, just that they aren't as action packed as I might like.

Regardless, I enjoyed the first two books. At this point I have the third and fifth books, but am missing the fourth. Depending on how the third one goes I may just end my dabbling with the Deverry books there. But I'm definitely planning on reading the third one. Just as soon as I finish the new Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin books...


Shawn said...

Dude! This little known series is actually my favorite fantasy series of all time. I started reading this series in HS, probably when I was 16. She just finished the last book (11th book) in 2001.

I was drawn into the characters in this world more then any other fantasy novels. I've read the entire series 3 times now, they get better every time.

Also, some of the other books contain more action, but it is a different type then say R.A. Salvatore. Reading about Cullyn in battle is just awesome.

She has just finished book 12 (book 4 of the Dragon Mage), due to be out in 2006... I might actually re-read the series again leading up to that book. :-)

BTW, I have the rest of the books - however I loaned them to my brother awhile back, which means they are basically lost for now... I'll probably track them down now that I thinking about it.

Steve Eck said...

Crazy! You must have mentioned them to me at some point, but I forgot.

If you find the books, I'd be interested in borrowing some of them. :)