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Full Tide of Night
J.R. Dunn
Avon Books, 320 pages

Full Tide of Night
J.R. Dunn
A novelist, editor and military historian, J.R. Dunn's works include Days of Cain, This Side of Judgment and the short story, "Long Knives," for which he won the Writers of the Future award. J.R. Dunn is currently the assistant editor on The International Military Encyclopedia.

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A review by Kim Fawcett

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Full Tide of Night is a book of layers upon layers. Wrapped up into 320 pages you have rebellion on a colony world, war among the rebels themselves, betrayals, hate crimes, a treacherous AI, and the imminent arrival of a being that claims to hail from long-destroyed Earth, but who may in fact be one of Earth's destroyers -- the Erinye.

Sound complex? It is. On the surface, Full Tide of Night is the story of a rebellion against Julia Amalfi -- the sole survivor of Earth's destruction, and both founder and leader of the colony on Midgard. It's also the story of how that rebellion sours as the interests of the rebelling farmers turn out to be quite different from those of their allies, members of a cult that call themselves Rigorists.

Below this surface, Dunn gradually spins the story of Earth's last days, Julia's flight from the Erinye, and the history of Midgard's colony.

It's a good story with a great opening. While Dunn's treatment of the rebellion itself sometimes drags -- the Rigorists' speeches and posturing all sound the same after the first couple of chapters -- the occasional tidbits of Julia's past are enough to keep you going. Dunn also cranks the tension by introducing Magister St. John, a mysterious being on its way to Midgard. What is it really -- human, Erinye, or something else? If it is Erinye, what can the divided colony do to defend itself? Will Midgard be destroyed from within, or without? These are the kinds of questions that will keep you riveted.

Throughout, Full Tide of Night is about leadership and rebellion. The parallels between Midgard's struggles and our own history are obvious, and Dunn makes these parallels even clearer through the character of Tony Perin. Second in command of the rebels, Perin struggles to see where the leaders around him have gone wrong -- how far is too far in this rebellion he's helped foster? Sometimes this makes Full Tide of Night read like a novelization of a political science textbook. Don't let this put you off, though, because the rest of the time Dunn makes this same material live and breathe.

Dunn is a master of characterization. There are no two-dimensional characters in Full Tide of Night. It is filled with people whose histories, merely hinted at, could take up books of their own. Not always likable, they show the full spectrum of human nature -- from its most noble to its most vicious.

Full Tide of Night is not always easy reading. It's a book that sometimes hurts, because it reminds us of what we are capable of at our best and at our worst. But, while painful, reminders of this sort should never be unwelcome. Add to this good writing, good plotting, and a gripping story, and you've got a book worth reading.

Copyright © 1998 by Kim Fawcett

Kim Fawcett works, reads, writes, and occasionally sleeps in Ottawa, Canada. A day job writing for the hi-tech industry hinders her creative efforts, but has no effect at all on her book-a-week reading habit. She dreams of (a) winning the lottery, (b) publishing a novel, © travelling the world, and (d) doing all of the above all at once.


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