Well of Darkness

Margaret Weis, Author, Tracy Hickman, Author Eos $25 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-105180-7
The founding parents of the game-tie-in fantasy novel here launch a role-playing-game-related high fantasy trilogy in which game knowledge is irrelevant to reader enjoyment. This is a classic tale of the rivalry of two half-brothers, the sons of King Tamaros of Vinnengael: the virtuous elder Helmos and the frustrated and ambitious young Dagnarus. Along the way, Dagnarus wins the friendship and loyalty of his whipping boy, Gareth, who in due course trains as a mage and adept in forbidden Void magic, dangerous to the user but deadly to the user's enemies. Shortly after King Tamaros believes that he has made peace among the four races (human, dwarves, elves and orken), Dagnarus and Gareth together begin to undo all the king's work, unleashing a war of all against all made even worse by the lethal Void magic and the rivalries of potentates, particularly human and elven. This is a story assembled from archetypical elements, all at least slightly touched with originality. Dagnarus is a thug but also a heroic soldier, and his elven lover prefers to become one of the Void-spawned undead Vrykyl rather than be parted from him. Elven political institutions irresistibly recall the Tokugawa era of Japan.The dwarves are not metal-working troglodytes but horse archers, living light and traveling fast. Weis and Hickman (Dragons of a Fallen Son, etc.) are still not much more than good plain cooks as stylists, but here they are writing at an entirely respectable level. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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