Wednesday, May 20, 2015

3 1/2 Years Later...

Against The Light
by Dave Duncan
495 pages
$4.99 Kindle version

I can't believe I actually put off reading this book for over three years! When I first put it on my reading list, I did so because I was looking to read more fantasy books at the time. However, I was under the impression that this novel had a heavy religious theme, and that's a theme (much like politics) that I try to avoid, even in literature.

The book description emphasizes the turmoil between followers of the Light, and worshippers of Mother Earth, mentioning missionaries, priests, heresy and treason. What it doesn't mention is the family drama that is the true heart of the story. And, while the details of the Mother's children definitely brings the fantasy element front and center, the medieval setting has some elements of historical fiction.

Three siblings (Maddy, Bram and Rollo) are separated at the beginning of the story by circumstances arising from the conflicts between the two religions of their country. Thus, three separate storylines emerge, one following each of the Woodbridge children. From time to time, the POVs of other characters are included, depending on their proximity and/or relationship to the Woodbridge trio.

I think Maddy's storyline is the most interesting because her character appears to go through the most physical and emotional changes. Bram's experiences are also very extreme, but he maintains his childhood innocence longer than his brother and sister. While Rollo is a main character, and a key plot device, I don't think he has to face as many personal challenges as his two younger siblings.

The character development is amazing. Duncan doesn't describe his characters as much as he allows readers to share in their experiences, creating a bond between the audience and the Woodbridge children. The use of dramatic irony also built the suspense far higher than I would have expected for a novel based in this genre.

The ending did leave me wondering if this was to be continued in a series; it works as a stand-alone, but I wouldn't mind reading another story set in the opposing country.

If you've ever read anything by Fred Saberhagen, you might enjoy Dave Duncan.

As always,

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