Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
I found Black Sun Rising, the first book in the Coldfire Trilogy, to be a most interesting science-fantasy novel. In the future, colonists from Earth have landed on another planet deemed Erna. However, some sort of cataclysmic event occurred early in the history of the colonization of Erna and most technology had to be forsaken. The novel then takes place about a thousand years after the initial landing on Erna, which turns out to be quite different from Earth.
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Even though I enjoyed the novel tremendously, it did have some flaws including one major one. The big one is definitely the “love” relationship that sort of starts the main events of the book. The characters have only known each other for a brief time and it has absolutely no substance to it. Essentially, Damien the protagonist goes on this godforsaken quest just to make Ciani (the woman he barely knows) cool again. It just turns out that it involves a lot more than originally planned. One other problem with the book is the pacing is a bit slow in the first portions of the book. Lastly, there is a lot of clothes-porn in the book, but may be understandable since the author was formerly in the fashion industry.
Despite these flaws the book has a lot going for it. First of all, one of the protagonists (perhaps antagonist could be justified) is a sick anti-hero. Gerald Tarrant is an ultimate bad-ass who kind of survives off of people’s fear. In a similar vein, the environment of Erna is basically the most unforgiving setting I’ve read yet in a fantasy book. There are magical fae currents in the world and are part of the ecosystem. The problem is this fae can manifest itself in terrible ways based upon the fears and thoughts of the people who live on Erna. So essentially, when people become afraid, frightening things will be created somewhere in the world which then lends itself to the people being more afraid creating a viscous cycle. To combat these manifestations there is a new church on Erna (though divided) where some of them such as the main character the Reverend Damien Kilcannon Vryce makes it their calling to go out and kill them with swords and sorcery (the sorcery part being much debated in the church on Erna). The book also brings out many interesting lines of thought such divergent evolution of species, the psychology of fear, and the passing of time and generations.
Overall, the book has some problems but I personally felt that all of the heavy concepts being explored as well as the hostility of Erna itself mostly made up for some of the problems. This isn’t a book for those who want everything neatly wrapped up and tied into a bow as many aspects of the world are not fully explained, but I kind of preferred it that way. The book can also make you think hard if you allow it too which is also something I definitely like in a novel. I’m certainly going to look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy When True Night Falls.
4.5 out of 5 stars.