Mzungo's Reviews > When True Night Falls

When True Night Falls by C.S. Friedman
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's review
Jun 11, 12

Read in June, 2012

Another quality entry in the fantasy genre. This book had much in common with its predecessor. The overall plot is essentially the same - quest to slay a demon. It is an entertaining story though. This book does offer a bit more insight into Vryce and the Hunter and further develops the interplay between them. Like the first book, some of the internal struggles of the characters are overdone and drawn out, but I can easily look past that. Overall, it was good enough to make me want to continue reading the trilogy. I think the Hunter is a very well done character, and that is probably the single biggest reason I'm continuing to read. I'm just curious to discover his fate.

Additionally, below is my review of Black Sun Rising, and it serves equally well for When True Night Falls.

I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. One of my biggest pet peeves with the fantasy genre is the hokey covers, and while the covers of Cold Fire Trilogy are not as bad as some, I was still turned off a bit. The only reason I started reading it was because I found it on a free book swap book shelf, the cover having turned me off in the past and causing me to dismiss the book as directed to a less mature audience. I have since purchased the concluding two books in order to finish out the story. Its worth mentioning that this book could be read as a stand alone. It ends with just enough to let you know that the characters have interesting trial ahead, but does not have a total cliff hanger that leaves you feeling unfulfilled.

However, as I said, I was surprised. The overall story is solid. It is essentially a quest for revenge, with the main characters seeking out to destroy an attacker which had left one of the group crippled. Along the way, Friedman delves into the back story of the characters and the world they live in.

The world building is easily the best part of the book. Basically, the characters are human, living on an alien world with only a vague knowledge of the past scientific glory which allowed humans to achieve interstellar travel. The world itself is alive and responsive to the thoughts and wills of humans, which allows for the "magic" system in the story. And it is a great system. It provides different characters with different powers while also limiting them. Friedman does a great job of exposing strengths and weaknesses so that even the most powerful characters are able to be exposed to danger. The "magic" is also unreliable, a concept that I felt made the difference in this book. It was refreshing to see the characters struggle and not be able to just magic their way out of a jam.

I took away a star for a few reasons. The first is the cover. Second, Friedman spends a lot of time explaining and rehashing some of the characters' morality. While I understand that that aspect of the characters is important, it just got to be repetitive. I think that Friedman often could have gotten away with a one-line reminder to the reader instead of a drawn out internal monolog. Last, the book was longer than it needed to be ....

Minor spoiler below

...while having a very short finale. I thing some judicious editing could have trimmed 50-100 pages and quickened up the pace a bit. I was just disappointed that the book built up for 550, meticulously detailing the expedition only to hash through the final confrontation in what seemed like a single 20 page chapter.

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