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Highlander: Shadow of Obsession
Rebecca Neason
Warner Aspect, 232 pages

Highlander: Shadow of Obsession
Rebecca Neason
Rebecca Neason's books include Highlander: The Path (1997) and Star Trek, The Next Generation: Guises of the Mind (1993).

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A review by Todd Richmond

One of the things I look for in a book based on a movie or TV series is whether it follows the feel of the original. Novels based on popular TV shows can add a richness to the characters, thereby making the show itself more enjoyable. So it's always nice when a book like Rebecca Neason's Highlander: Shadow of Obsession follows the TV series so faithfully, and fills in a few holes at the same time.

While Duncan MacLeod plays a role in this novel, the major focus of the book is on the Immortal Darius, an old friend of MacLeod's who was slain by a rogue Watcher. It takes place after Darius was killed, but spends a great deal of time following the events in Darius's life just before his "conversion" at the gates of Paris in 410 AD.

The story begins in modern day Sudan with Duncan MacLeod honouring Darius's memory by helping Victor Paulus, a former student of Darius. Also present is Victor's fiancée, Cynthia VanDervane, another Immortal, although Victor doesn't realize this. Upon their return to the States, MacLeod mentions Cynthia to Joe Dawson, his Watcher, which starts Dawson looking through the records for mention of her.

During a reminiscence of MacLeod, the story jumps back to his encounter with Darius at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. More than dozen centuries after his transformation, Darius was a priest tending to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield. Fans of the TV series will recognize that this is based on the episode "Band of Brothers."

The story cuts back briefly to modern day Seattle, where we get the first hint that Cynthia is not the loving fiancée she appears to be. The story then moves back to Central Europe around 400 AD, where Darius the Mad, as he was called then, has joined up with Alaric the Great and his Visigoths. At that time Darius was a blood-thirsty soldier who lived for battle. But after Darius kills an ancient Immortal at the gates of Paris, the Quickening he receives changes his life. He abandons fighting and war and becomes a man of peace.

But now, many centuries later, an old enemy of Darius, cheated by his death at the hands of the rogue Watchers, decides instead to target Darius's disciples and friends for long-awaited vengeance. It's up to MacLeod to protect Victor Paulus and himself from a woman obsessed with revenge.

Highlander: Shadow of Obsession fills in a lot of details about Darius's life and his transformation at Paris and fits in comfortably with the Highlander mythos as we know it. I was a little disappointed at the ending, as it seemed a bit rushed compared to the extensive coverage of Darius with the Visigoths, but it didn't ruin the book for me. I think fans of the TV series will enjoy this novel.

The delightful thing about the whole concept of Highlander and the Immortals is that there is an endless number of stories waiting to be told. The series, of course, concentrates on Duncan MacLeod and the Immortals he encounters. But there are many books that could be written about the other Immortals on the show and their histories. There's only a handful of Highlander books out now, but I'm sure we can expect to see many more. Hopefully they will all be up to the standards set by Highlander: Shadow of Obsession.

Copyright © 1998 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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