Black Sun Rising

C.S. Friedman

Reviewed by Coral


On the planet of Erna, the human colonists from Earth have not had an easy time of it. Not only do dangerous currents of magic - the Fae - flow in the air around them, but the world was inhabited by dangerous creatures - the Rakh. The Rakh and the colonists battle for supremacy of the planet, the humans eventually finding a way to banish the Rakh to another dimension maybe, or continent (it's not all that clear). Unfortunately the slaughter of the native animals had the unexpected side-effect of interacting with the Fae to create demons who feed off human emotions. Human society was nearly destroyed until the Church emerged and brought calm to the chaos, thanks to their Prophet.

But the Prophet and the Church do not agree on everything, especially when it comes to the Fae. Now, cast off from the Church he helped create, the Prophet goes a little crazy, killing his wife and children so that he can use their blood to give him longer life.

Fast-forward a couple of centuries at least, and the Church is no longer as strict when it comes to use of the Fae, and not the dominant power on the planet it used to be. Pagan churches, central to worship of the Fae have sprung up, as well as Sorcerers and Adepts, people who can use the Fae in their everyday life. A faction of the Church has come to believe that if they embrace these Fae-users, submerge them in Church beliefs, they can be religious warriors against the demons. But an even bigger threat lurks behind these demons, the barely human Prophet, known to the people who fear him as the Hunter, who controls the demons for his own purposes.

This could have been a good story, following Damien Vryce, first Church Sorcerer, as he tries to make a place for himself in a Church that has always stood against the Fae. It could have been a good story following the Church and their Sorcerers trying to hunt down and kill the Hunter. There was so much potential in this story and it just didn't live up to it.

What we get is a story that strays from all of the plot I just outlined. Instead we watch as Damien's lover Ciani is attacked and left without memory of how to work the Fae. Coming to believe that only killing the demon that attacked her will return her memory back to her, Damien, Ciani, and her friend Zen set off to track these beasts down. And of course they meet up with the Hunter along the way, but he's suddenly gone from the evil villain who killed his family for a chance at eternal life, to guy who just wants to help save Ciani.

This is where I think the book suffers, because I can't see the Hunter as a sympathetic character. He killed his wife, butchered his children, hunted hundreds of people over the years to keep him alive, and I'm supposed to believe that it's his obsession - I'm sorry, deep meaningful feelings - for Ciani that's saved his soul?

 

Grade: C