Reviews of 'Dalamar the Dark'
Reviews of 'Dalamar the Dark'
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Well, overall, a good book. However, this book now needs a sequel to
bring things "up to speed", as it were, in Dalamar's life. It ends with
him becoming Raistlin's apprentice, but that's still 20-25 years before
the Chaos War. Considering he had the Tower for 20 years by himself
post-Legends, he had to have been up to something beyond the bits and
pieces laid out in the short story "The Sacrifice" and references in
The Puppet King.
As well, for not having taken the Test yet, his ability to master
ancient rune languages is uncanny, and something I would think an
untested mage would be able to do.
Another thing is that there was too much focus early on in the novel
toward Alhana and Lorac and his use of the Dragon Orb. In the end,
though, the use of Alhana and Porthios was nice, as was the mentions
of Raistlin during the War of the Lance, as a sort of foreshadowing as to what
would become of Dalamar.
As for that Ceremony of Darkness... if it gives glimpses of the
future, you'd think somebody like Lorac would walk along and want to use
it as well.
Again, good book, nice insight to Dalamar, but deserves a sequel. If
it isn't going to get one, well, they should've had one book written
spanning the whole time pre-War of the Lance to the Chaos War and beyond.
The very talented Nancy Varian Berberick (henceforth NVB) was selected to
tell the story of Krynn's most infamous dark elf, Dalamar the Dark. For
those unfamiliar with the name of the author, her previous credits
include Heroes Trilogy vol. 2, Stormblade and Chaos War Series vol. 3,
Tears of the Night Sky with Linda P. Baker. She is also the authoress of
several DL short stories, most recently "The Long Road Home" in Tales of
the Fifth Age vol. 2, Heroes and Fools. She has proven herself time and
again to be an exceptional DL author and one who never fails to capture
the spirit of the world.
This book is no different. The book, as has been mentioned, chronicles
the period of time from some of the earliest days of the War of the Lance
through the initial stages of the Blue Lady's War. As the novel opens,
Dalamar is being primed for his apprenticeship to Raistlin Majere after
completing his first mission from the Conclave, a task that proves to be
the climax of the tale. Dalamar recounts his life in the form of one big
flashback just prior to his departure form Wayreth. From his humble
beginnings as a member of House Servant, a source of constant irritation
to his master, to his rise to a minor mage after convincing the Speaker
of the Stars to break from tradition and use illusion magic (prohibited
from practice as it is not sanctioned by Solinari's Order) to turn back
the armies of Takhisis from the Silvanesti border. When the plan fails
to reach complete success thanks to the dark wizard Tramd (o' the Dark),
Lorac uses the dragon orb he "rescued" (read: stole) from the Tower of
High Sorcery of Istar. The results we all know.
Dalamar travels to Southern Ergoth with the rest of his people. The book
spends little time detailing his life here before the Silvanesti return
home to begin combating the dream. Dalamar is discovered shortly after
returning in his secret cave, swearing fealty to Nuitari, having realized
the gods of the Silvanesti do not care enough for them. He is exiled as
a dark elf and begins to travel Ansalon, accumulating magical power until
he is finally summoned to Wayreth Forest. He arrives at the tower, takes
his Test, and is then assigned to the destruction of Tramd o' the Dark by
Ladonna herself. He and his current lover, White Robe wizardess Regene
of Schallsea, travel to Karthay, and the story's culmination is found.
The epilogue has us with Dalamar as he meets Raistlin Majere for the
first time in the Tower of Palanthas.
This book was exquisite and, save for a few minor sticking points (see
below), fits very well with what we know of Dalamar's past (not much) and
the events of his time. NVB captured the elf's spirit as a character
very well, and his degeneration from sardonic naysayer to full-fledged
bastard is done with excellent process. Throughout the story, however,
he remains the antihero he was meant to be, and at no time does the
reader ever lose interest in him, which is the mark of an excellent
story. The detail of the story is also done to a "T," as we get a good
feel as to what Silvanesti forest is like, including all memories Dalamar
has of it that we share in. In comparison, the description of the
Nightmare Kingdom becomes stellar and paints a vivid picture.
Another excellent tidbit was during Dalamar's Circle of Darkness (trial
to see if he must be cast out). During the time he spends in an
enchanted room, events from his future flash before him, including his
last known (to us) whereabouts, in the Rift, where he comes face-to-face
with Chaos Himself! This adds a cool spin on one of Krynn's greatest
mysteries at this point. Kudos to NVB on this one!
In all, the book plays out great as a telling of the elf's life story (or
the significant portion thereof), and the reader is always kept guessing
as to what's going on. If I were in Kirkus Reviews (which I'm not), I'd
give it 4 stars (out of 5), for the magic of it. That missed star comes
from a combination of factors already mentioned and the fact that, even
though it is a great book and one in great demand, it is a story that had
a known outcome. It was told very well, though. Good job Nance!
Now, the little flaws I picked up on. There weren't many, and I'm not
talking grammatical stuff (of which there was very little, a vast
improvement from the state of affairs to be seen in The Siege of Mt.
Nevermind), but some concrete stuff that NVB was a bit off on:
1. The sole perpetrator of the attack on Silvanesti in DtD was the Red
Wing. In actuality it was a combination of the Red and Green Dragonarmies.
2. The Red Dragon Highlord was always Verminaard, until his death at the
hands of the Companions in 352 AC, at which point Ariakas seized control.
Phair Caron would have worked better as the Green Dragon Highlord, as we
have no idea who held the position prior to Toede.
3. A lot of attention was paid to Paladine (E'li) by the Silvanesti elves
and, while he is an important god among their people, I think this is a
bit much. The highest of all elven gods (at least among the "civilized
elves") is Astarin (Branchala). His name should have been tossed around
more frequently than E'li's.
4. Blade, Tramd's blue dragon, is slain by lightning bolts. Blue
dragons, no matter where you go, are immune to electricity in all forms.
I may have missed one thing, but I don't think so. Cool connections I
1. Dalamar's trip to Southern Ergoth - this ties in to his possible cameo in the
2. The mentioning of the actual locations of the 5 towers- very cool.
3. Lord Konnal being Lord Garan's assistant - his brief appearances do
justice to what we know about him.
Finally, here's some stuff I think would have been cool to see/could have
been improved, IMO:
1. E'li and a couple other Silvanesti names for gods were used. However,
I think if every god had been referenced by his/her Silvanesti name, it
would have added a feel of culture to the book that would have been
2. Phair Caron's vendetta seemed kind of petty when it boiled right down
to it. Because one elf had sneered at her when she was a child she hated
the entire race and wanted to destroy them? Kind of sketchy.
3. Little to no mention of the sudden breaking of the treaty by the
dragonarmies appeared. In the timeline, the armies are "flushed from
victory" and turn south, skirmishing with the Silvanesti border before
the all-out attack. This isn't mentioned, where it would have been
really nice to see.
That's about it. All in all, as I said, 4/5 stars. Thanks Nancy!
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