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    Review of THE GATES OF DAWN by Robert Newcomb


    DEL REY, July 2003

    Click to buy THE GATES OF DAWN from His nation virtually destroyed, Prince Tristan wishes only to rebuild. But his own son has gained impossible power and now drains the very magic that supports the world's sorceries. Aided only by two wizzards and his sister, Tristran is virtually helpless against the powerful magic that the once-dead and now alive Nicholas can bring to bear. Nicholas has subverted the league of wizards that are supposed to help the people and Tristran, posted a huge reward for Tristan's capture, and is ahead of Tristran and his wizards at every step. It doesn't help that Tristran can't trust even the two wizards who support him. They think nothing of keeping secrets from him--mostly for no apparent reason.

    Author Robert Newcomb delivers an intriguing magic system based on the mystically imbued blood that certain people have. The concept of blood magic is well developed and interesting. Nicholas and his assistants, poisoned Ragnar and assassin Scrounge are strong and sympathetic. Each has suffered at the hands of Tristran and the system that has brought him to power.

    THE GATES OF DAWN suffers from three problems: First, Newcomb's writing is ponderous. Characters spend too much time thinking, remembering, discussing ad nauseum, and not enough time actually doing things. This is expecially true in the first half the book but continues to the end. Second, Tristran's wizards keep too much secret from Tristran. This feels like an artifice--constructed to keep the reader in doubt rather than something that flows naturally from the story. As a result, Tristran seems like a manipulated child rather than a heroic character. Third, the resolution is terrible. Essentially, if Tristran and friends had headed to Las Vegas and gambled, the end wouldn't have been changed. All of the plotting, near-death experiences, and acts of bravery are so much wasted time. Reading nearly five hundred pages only to find out that it didn't matter is a frustrating experience.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 7/07/03

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