Review of AT THE GATES OF DARKNESS by Raymond E. Feist (see his website)
BOOK TWO OF THE DEMONWAR SAGA
Eos, April 2010
Although their first assault was stopped, demons continue seeking ways into the planet occupied by humans, elves and others. Where demons are let loose, all life is consumed. But now, demons seem to be acting different, acting in ways that are even more frightening than before. Rather than mass attacks, with every demon pursuing his own agenda, the demons seem directed, battling under the control of others. Pug, and his small band of wizards and others, know they'll need more information if they have any hope of confronting these newly organized demons when they break through into Pug's plane.
Whether they're officially members of Pug's 'conclave of shadows' or not, intelligence agents and knights from around the world siphon information to the heart-broken Pug. It takes a major expedition, however, to get their hands on the one book that shows an understanding of the true nature of the demon realm...and might give them a chance to battle the demons with some hope for victory. Pug's allies and demon experts soon discover that everything they thought they knew is either wrong or, at best, incomplete.
Ultimately, Pug and the others are able to reach the gateway the demons have constructed, where they learn that one of the demon-lords has partially taken control of a human and is hoping that the human's death will hasten his arrival.
Author Raymond E. Feist (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of fantasy by Feist) writes at a consistently high-quality level, with interesting and fully dimensioned characters, realistic conflict between primary characters, and with compelling fantasy antagonists to drive the story forward. AT THE GATES OF DARKNESS lives up to Feist's high standards and is an enjoyable read. I found, however, that much of the book is setup. There isn't a lot of suspense in the scenes where Pug and the others track down the Book of Demons, for example, and until the climactic scene at the end, Pug is dramatically more powerful than anything he faces. The conflict between the star-crossing elves and the elves who stayed behind was a major element in the first novel in this series but it doesn't really move forward in this second. GATES has at least some of the aspects of a second book in a series...too much moving around getting ready for the conclusion and not quite enough stuff actually happening here.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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