Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Black Sun Rising - by Celia Friedman

Black Sun RisingBlack Sun Rising is the first volume in Celia Friedman's Coldfire series. It looks like the beginning of a very readable science-fiction/fantasy story so here's a brief outline of the plot…
Over 1,000 years ago, colonists from Earth settled on the far distant, seismically active but beautiful planet Erna. However, this seemingly habitable world was fraught with perils that no-one could have forseen and the colonists soon found themselves caught in a desperate struggle for their very survival.

Erna was home to the Fae, a terrifying natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind, indiscriminately bring both dreams and nightmares to life. But with nowhere else to go, the colonists learned to live with the Fae and twelve hundred years later, mankind and Fae have reached an uneasy stalemate.

Now, human sorcerors manipulate the Fae for profit but what they don't realize is that there are demonic forces on Erna that feed upon their interactions with the Fae and they are gaining in strength. Into this cauldron of power are thrown a priest, an adept, an apprentice and a sorceror and together they must find and confront an evil beyond their imagining. The very fate of humanity depends on them.

Okay, it's been done many times before now but I like the mix of science-fiction and fantasy here. It gives some background to the story and provides a set of rules by which the fantasy element can be controlled. Friedman has crafted a plausible world with a sound basis in science-fiction and populated it with a rich mix of characters for her story. Erna has three moons, which means there's always some light available and only rarely do all moon set together, bringing about true night. True night is a time to be feared by all as the Fae is at its strongest.

I suppose the story can be likened (a bit) to the movie Forbidden Planet, where monsters of the id were responsible for the extinction of the Krell race. Where Altair-4 had the vast machinery if the Krell, Erna has the Fae but the results are much the same. Imagine a world where your very thoughts, even a stray one, can become reality and you'll appreciate how living on Erna would be very difficult. It also explains the rise of the church in what should have been a scientifically oriented society.

The mix of primary characters is pretty good too with the reverand Damien Kilcannon Vryce as the leader of the party of adventurers and the mysterious Gerald Tarrant, also known as the Hunter and master of the forbidden Forest, as a sort of anti-hero. You know Tarrant is evil but even he isn't beyond redemption and there are much worse things out there.

The next installment is called When True Night Falls and it's definitely on my must read list.

Genre:Adventure, Fantasy, Science-Fiction
ISBN: 1-84149-541-7
My Rating: 8/10

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