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Into A Dark Realm
Raymond E. Feist
HarperCollins Voyager, 386 pages

Into A Dark Realm
Raymond E. Feist
Raymond E. Feist has produced some remarkable novels. Most fall into his Riftwar Saga, consisting of Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, Silverthorn, and A Darkness at Sethanon, along with his Midkemia series consisting of Prince of the Blood and The King's Buccaneer, plus The Serpentwar Saga, consisting of Shadow of a Dark Queen, Rise of a Merchant Prince, Rage of a Demon King, and Shards of a Broken Crown. He developed the basis for the award-winning game, Betrayal at Krondor.

Raymond E. Feist Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Flight of the Nighthawks
SF Site Review: King of Foxes
SF Site Review: Talon of the Silver Hawk
SF Site Review: Exile's Return
SF Site Review: Prince of the Blood
SF Site Review: Murder in LaMut
SF Site Review: Krondor: Tear of the Gods
SF Site Review: Krondor: The Assassins
SF Site Review: Krondor the Betrayal
SF Site Review: Serpentwar Saga
SF Site Review: Serpentwar Saga
SF Site Review: Rage of a Demon King
SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown
SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


"The Dasati will kill you on sight. Simply for existing. They are a race akin to our own, but driven by realities you can only begin to imagine, let alone fully comprehend. Everything that is a potential threat is to be destroyed, utterly, and anything not understood is a threat, and therefore destroyed."
Into A Dark Realm is book two of the Darkwar sequence. Despite a poor cover, which looked as if the publishers think Raymond E. Feist is so well established that they need not bother commissioning a jacket artist, I was very keen to read this work. Mainly because it's predecessor, Flight of the Nighthawks, was pregnant with so much promise. Into A Dark Realm concerns four storylines, three of which interweave. The odd one out concerns the standard Feistian obsession with including everyman characters, no matter how dull they may be. Once again, the unmagical contingent are Jommy, Zane and Tad, who begin by rounding up a Nighthawk middle man, who gives up the whereabouts of a more important evil doer. Once that thread reaches its climax, the trio are shuffled off centre stage into a kind of Roldemish finishing school, where they encounter stereotypical aristocratic students. As the sequence plods on, each group finds that the others are not such bad chaps. Feist must believe that his readers want this kind of thing included, or that it is essential light relief from the magical plot lines, but for me it was vanilla fantasy filler, without relevance to the main theme. I'd much rather have had the pages used for further development of the Kelewan-based thread.

The story works best when the author is dealing directly with his major plot. The minor thread details Miranda's low key adventures on the Tsurani home world, looking into the lethal rifts from the Desati world, and her covert search for the body inhabited by necromancer Leso Varen. The major thread concerns heavyweight characters Pug, Nakor, Magnus and Ralan Bek, as they prepare and ultimately journey into the heart of darkness that is the Dasati home world. Running in parallel with this is a riveting tale centred around a Dasati youth named Valko. There's an evil sparkle here, brighter and hotter than any of Feist's works since the Magician trilogy. The Dasati and their world are sumptuously realised, detailing how their society revolves around savage, meticulously organised violence. The Twelve Worlds ruled by the Dasati worship His Darkness, a being of pure evil. But, a glimmer of hope remains in the form of a legend known as the White, and a shadowy leader, belatedly named as the Gardener. Central to both is Valko's mother, Narueen, a leading member of the clandestine Bloodwitch Sisterhood, who have secretly been working on a breeding program for many generations. Valko is the culmination of this effort, and it is intended for him to completely deconstruct Dasati society, reorganising it as a world where evil and good are equally balanced forces. Key to what will be a mental, spiritual and very bloody revolution is another Dasati legend; the rise of the Godkiller, a warrior destined to challenge the Dark One himself. No prizes for guessing his identity. It's an entertaining, at times intoxicating mixture, and in some ways a resurgence of the author as a first rate creative force. Even if the Bloodwitch Sisterhood and their genetic manipulations appear to have been inspired by Frank Herbert's Bene Gesserit.

So why did I finish reading with the feeling that I'd been slightly short changed? The problem lies in a series of blunders which a younger Feist, or even Feist properly edited, would never have made. For a start, it is blatantly obvious whose body is inhabited by Leso Varen, yet none of the characters suspects, and for most of the book the necromancer is little more than a vague menace. Eventually he surfaces, but the scene involves Miranda, Pug's wife and the daughter of Macros the Black, who is caught out in a fashion that does not seem even remotely credible. How could she be so stupid? Because the author couldn't or wouldn't invent something smarter, seems the most likely answer. Then there's the filler plot featuring Jommy Killaroo, (an antipodean Eric Von Darkmoor in development), Zane and Tad, sons of Caleb and grandsons of Pug, which has no connection to the main theme. Worst of all is Ralan Bek, who again spends almost the entire story on hold. We're reminded he's there, and given a few more insights into his nature, but the character -- and it is a great character -- is parked for use in the next book, his role badly telegraphed. Right at the end, is a twist that is either a genuine surprise, or a Feistian inevitability. Flip a coin to decide which. In summary, I found Into A Dark Realm less than I'd hoped it would be, but thanks to its flickering dark invention, just enough to keep me hooked.

Copyright © 2007 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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