, February 19, 2007
(view all comments by BeezerMN)
The Dark Glory War by Michael Stackpole is actually a prelude novel to his Dragoncrown War Cycle Trilogy. The first book of that trilogy is Fortress Draconis, which I believe takes place 30-40 years after the events of this book. The one thing that I think needs to be said right away is that this book is written from the first person perspective, and follows young Tarrant Hawkins throughout many trials. Normally, I am not a fan of first person books; they just don't `work' for me. Yet, I found myself easily engaged in both the story ad characters. Mr. Stackpole certainly has talent for writing.
The plot of this book, especially when the book is only 402 pages, is absolutely huge. After finishing the book and looking back at everything that happens in this book it's amazing that it was all included. Being that the book is written in first person, Mr. Stackpole is allowed to make some rather large leaps with the plot and phrase it as the `author' or Tarrant, is merely reminiscing about past event, versus needing to write every detail about those events. There are some traditional pieces within this plot, such as a group of young friends becoming men within their city/village by doing deeds that separate them. The nature of the coming of age ceremony in this novel is simply amazing. I really enjoyed the twist Mr. Stackpole placed on it and the rich tradition that seemed to emanate from it was a joy to read. As I said before, the plot of this book encompasses a great deal and introduces the reader to countless things within the world, a variety of places, creatures, people, and cultures. It is quite evident that Mr. Stackpole certainly had a vision of what he wanted to accomplish, I have yet to read the Dragoncrown War Cycle but after reading this novel I fully intend to search it out and read it.
The characters in this novel are very good, and well thought out. There are several characters that are very memorable to me. From the main character Tarrant, to some of the supporting characters Leigh, Nay, Resolute, Seethe to name a few. Tarrant is well fleshed out, which can be expected since the story is his and in his words. It was interesting to read his thoughts and how he perceived some of the events that took place. The supporting characters weren't as well fleshed out as they would be in other fantasy novels, mostly because of perspective and the focus of the story. While I would certainly have liked to know about the other characters, it was just not meant to be based on how the story was written. However, even the glimpses that we are given into these supporting characters are very well written and leave the reader wanting more. To me, that's the mark of a good character, one that you ant to know more about after finishing the book. There are many good characters in this novel, Mr. Stackpole certainly didn't leave character development behind in this novel, but to fully explain that I would have to write some spoilers and I don't want to do that. Suffice it to say, that the characters are well worth reading this book.
I do have a few minor criticisms about this book however. There are a few cases where I would have liked to read some more detail about places, events, or people that Tarrant encountered. There is a balance between giving the reader too much information to where they have little leeway to make their own mental picture and not providing enough for the reader to make that image. A few instances there was simply not enough information to work with. The other thing is a few instances were Tarrant would reflect on something, an event, a secret, or something and then brush over it as if he assumed the reader know what he was talking about, however, I had no idea what was being discussed and it lost me a couple times. Maybe, these instances were simply victims of maximum word count; however, leaving the reader wondering about what is going on is not a very good habit for a writer to develop.
With all that said, I must say I did enjoy this novel a great deal. If this is a prelude of things to come, I simply can't wait to dive into the actual trilogy. For some people first person perspective books aren't there thing, I know they aren't for me, but if you are at least interested in this book I urge you to give it a chance. This was an enjoyable fantasy book and one that certainly adds to the genre.