Darksword

30 Mar

Darksword Trilogy

Forging of the Darksword

Doom of the Darksword

Triumph of the Darksword

Darksword Adventures

Legacy of the Darksword

 

The Darksword Trilogy and its companion and sequel volumes were written by Dragonlance authors, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (the latter a male, for those fooled by the name!). It tells the story of sullen youth and reluctant hero/villain, Joram – born totally mundane in a world rich in magic. Thimhallan, the world in which the series takes place, is that rare setting, a fantasy world not only dominated by magic but given a logical treatment. Often, fantasy settings are essentially historical settings with a handful of mages playing the role of Merlin; even when magic plays a major role in a fantasy world it doesn’t really have much impact beyond the cosmetic – knights wield magical swords and battlemages shoot off fireballs instead of arrows – nothing really changes. Thimhallan is very different. Although there are some aspects (such as retention of cash and mundane wealth) that don’t quite work, this is probably the most realistic (if that’s not an oxymoron) depiction of a magical world. Most telling is that in a world in which magic is Life, technology is Death – not just redundant and little used, but feared and purged from society. The result of this is that the Darksword of the title is as much feared for its Dead nature as for its ability to disrupt magic itself.

The trilogy charts the lives of Joram and Father Saryon, priest and catalyst (one who can transfer magical energy). The unfortunate Father finds himself a pawn of prophecy and of the corrupt Bishop Vanya who is determined to save the world – and his powerbase in it. Beginning as a humble fieldmagus whose crazed mother claims he is of noble blood, he is forced to flee into the wilds and seek shelter with rogue technologists. There he creates the powerful Darksword – a weapon that all the powers of Thimhallan fear, and desire to possess. Discovering his true identity and learning of the Prophecy that says he will destroy the world, he steps into the Beyond, leaving Thimhallan behind. Unfortunately, that is not the end and his return brings about the apaocalypse all had tried so hard to avert. But, although he dooms Thimhallan, Joram’s desperate act offers a future hope….

That future hope is taken up in Legacy as we rejoin Joram’s friend, Mosiah, and Father Saryon in a return to Thimhallan. The presence of alternate realities and other SF cliches means that this book is not for everyone who enjoyed the trilogy, although it does offer a look at what happened after ‘the end’. Oddly, there appear to be a few minor inconsistencies between this and the Trilogy, but it is impossible to tell if these are deliberate changes due to hopscotching across the timelines or mistakes following a gap of over half a decade between books blurring the authors’ memories.

Darksword Adventures is a companion volume that details the flora, fauna, history and geography of Thimhallan, the Mysteries (paths of magic)  and characters of the series. In addition, it provides some (rather complex, at first sight) rules for roleplaying in Thimhallan :  I haven’t played Phantasia, but I have liberally borrowed from the setting for homebrewed fantasy campaigns.

Although probably still out of print, the Darksword is well worth tracking down at the library or via Amazon.com in order to experience one of the best fantasy series ever written. If you love fantasy, then you owe it to yourself to read it!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: