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The Drawing of the Dark
Tim Powers
Gollancz, 329 pages

Jan Breughel, the Elder
The Drawing of the Dark
Tim Powers
Tim Powers was born in 1952. He attended and graduated from California State University, Fullerton, in 1976. In 1980 he was married to Serena Batsford. In 1984, he received the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award for The Anubis Gates. His novels Last Call and Declare have won the World Fantasy Award.

Tim Powers Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Declare
SF Site Review: The Drawing of the Dark
SF Site Interview: Tim Powers
SF Site Review: Earthquake Weather
Tim Powers Tribute Site
PUG: Tim Powers Interview
Review: Expiration Date

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Brian Duffy, an aging sword master wandering the streets of Venice, is more likely to be considering returning to his homeland of Ireland than going on another adventure, but when Aurelianus offers him a job as a bouncer at an infamous Vienna inn and brewery, Duffy finds more adventure than he bargained for.

Duffy's always had odd events happen to him. As a young man in Ireland, considering taking vows to become a monk, he went on a walk with the abbot, and oak trees fell all around them. This, as you can imagine, did not impress the Abbot, and he had to plot a new course in life. Recently he has seen odd things. Such as cloven hooves on a man that he decided were an illusion created by too much drink, or the odd creatures who lead him through the mountains, and even more uncanny creatures that attack him. It's 1529, a time when Suliman and his Turks are determined to conquer the world. Europe is holding its breath, waiting for attack. It is now time for Brian Duffy and a few people around him.

Really, what I've just said only begins to describe why The Drawing of the Dark is such a fitting addition to the Fantasy Masterworks series. It is a beautifully woven tapestry. On the surface, we are given a wonderful view of the Renaissance, the battles that people fought to keep from being victims of conquest, the fears of it, the lives they lead. You never consider that an inn or a tavern would need a bouncer. In the background of this tapestry, we see ifrits flapping their fiery wings, dwarves fighting bravely with bow and arrow. The Fisher King is the true king of the West, and he is ill, and Aurelianus, or Merlin, calls forth Arthur as their only hope against the King of the East and the encroaching dark that promises to make the Dark Ages look like a carnival.

In Duffy we have a wonderful hero. He's not the common type we often get in fantasy, for one, he's not a young guy. He's a veteran of wars, a mercenary whose recent job of fencing instructor has been the most peaceful past time he's had in his whole life. This gives him a believable wisdom and it makes it believable when he doesn't want to consider that he may be King Arthur reborn. He's also pleasant, with a good sense of humor which serves him well every time some weird thing happens to him.

I hesitated in mentioning the Arthurian theme. When I sat down to read The Drawing of the Dark, the back said nothing of it, and so as the little clues turned toward it, I was very surprised. If it wasn't such a big part of the book -- of major importance and part of what makes the book interesting -- I wouldn't have mentioned it. It's not a retelling of the legend or any legend. Tim Powers takes all of these elements -- Sigmund from Viking legend, the idea of two master wizards on either side, The Fisher King -- and makes a story entirely different from the norm, and magically real. I enjoyed watching him weave this dark tapestry, and I will re-read this book, to learn how he mingled such totally different realities, what truly happened with what could have happened if...

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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