The First...The One ... The Only... Neocount of Merentha...
It is more or less have been a long time coming since I finished the book kinda ages ago but got distracted by Wank and Leaking appliances BOTH un-yaoi related which is where I like my wanking and leaking done best!!!
However CROWN OF SHADOWS the last in Celia Friedman COLDFIRE trilogy is no less smexy than pure gay smut and it is the closest to gay fiction review you will get for a while because my reading list for a while consists of sort of ... Mainstream Fantasy that has been languishing on my shelves and collecting dust for AGES ... Hey - it is winter in my books and I need escapism and I need it reliable and more or less predictable with the ability to NOT make me think...
I promise to make up for the lack of Western Gay with lots and lots of Gay Sheik and Frilly Yaoi scans from various BL novels lying around but for now lets talk about this:
This time it IS cut for spoilers because a lot of the twists are included all through the book ... it is a lot more twisty than the other two books...
I am going to tackle the SLASH first because it hits you in the face with the full force of hell ... LITERALLY. Because, honestly, not only did the author dumped all the ladies out of the main quest leaving Tarrant and Vryce to bicker and snicker like two love struck birds she also made Damien FOLLOW TARRANT INTO HELL, bargain for his soul, and bring him back... I don't know about you but I have been in love several times and spewed cliches under the influence of hormones more than once and the foremost of those is: "I WILL FOLLOW YOU TO HELL AND BACK!"
If you want to convince anyone, let alone a yaoi fangirl, that your novel has no trace of gay do NOT have one of your MALE character trot into hell after another MALE character and definately do not have that MALE character constantly say and think: "I need him! I NEED HIM! I CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT HIM!" Especially since, Damien Dear! You ARE obviously doing a LOT without him... in fact you are DOING most of the stuff in this novel including magic and chopping of various evil things and looking after the one you oh-so-very much need.
And if I told you that the HELL incident is at the beginning and the bond between the two only grows stronger leaving them towards the end practically slurping each other blood so they can share CONSCIOUSNESS... well... CALL ME A FAG-HAG AND DUNK ME IN AN ICY TUB... before I burst into hormonal flames of SQUEE!!! :D:D:D
You get all you signed for in the first two novels. A full blast of the dark and nasty. Grit by the buckets and tormented characters with inteligent dialogues and fully realised and complicated world.
The plot is a bit more fragmented this time. In a good way that feels like development rather than replication. I think this is the greatness of this series. Each book is consistent in atmosphere and setting yet it is told differently and uses different devices to push the plot forward, keeping you endlessly on your toes and your mind nicely alert to enjoy the beautiful prose and really - it is GORGEOUS. It is rare to find someone who does dark without making it teenage goth (there is that big disagreement I have with good old menstrual Baudelaire and his flowers of Wangst... I mean EVIL!!!>_<). Friedman pulls it off masterfully. Her dark is genuinely disturbing from the word go.
The prologue again is a gem in its own right. It shows Smexy Gerald Tarrant (no denial there!) in his true colours and they are not pretty... yet so awesomely desirable. Remember this is a man who feasts on people fear and tortures people until they die... IN ECSTASY!!! It starts with a massacre and the most chilling yet unbelievably spectacular words: "I am the first, and only Neocount of Merentha!" I dare you not to fall on the floor and beg him to hunt you RIGHT THERE AND THEN and yet it is ... just... so brilliantly fucked up! Contradiction? Indeed! That is what so amazing about the entire trilogy ^_^.
This book see the Demon Calesta pulling all the strings and manipulating event to further his plans to shape the planet consciousness to his sadistic vision. I am a simple soul who admires fictional megalomaniacs so I can't help but applaud the plan.
It throws into the story Tarrant single descendant, a broken man, a drunkard playboy who spends most of the story whimpering until he meets the love of his life. The woman Tarrant promised not to hurt... and there was I thinking she was put in just to add a feminine touch to things a bit. The love affair actually appealed to me greatly. It was very fragile and very beautiful and heart wrenching, so I was quite glad to see that the author CAN handle heterosexual relationships convincingly ... which just goes to prove how GAY the whole Gerald X Damien IS!!!
The whole mystery of how the Demons came to be was a real surprise. It was a lot more Sci Fi than I anticipated. Shouldn't have been that surprising since the strings of science fiction run through this trilogy relentlessly, yet it is handled so much like fantasy it lulls you into believing it is all just an excuse and when you finally understand the big picture it is a bit ... unbalancing...
I liked it but I can see why a lot of fans where thrown by this. It touched on a favorite theme of mine being the Sentient Spaceship so I was positively in heaven. This is just one little aspect of the entire picture, trust Friedman to throw something a lot more complicated together.
The main problem with the end in my opinion is that it is OPEN yet NOT OPEN ENOUGH.
We are shown that Tarrant has the eternal ability to cheat death over and over and over again which is a good thing. We see Damien life after he made some major sacrifices and tries to re adjust to a new world and the main point that the final events have shaped the planet of Erna into a place where magic is not so accessible but a lot more stable. The forest is no longer there and the Demons are no longer a mystery...
And it all fits - it fits perfectly ...
Yet you can't help but feel that something is missing and i can't quite put my finger on it.
I would still give it five stars despite not succumbing to the star system... hell I will give it TEN stars out of five because the journey there is simply divine. It is a superb book in a superb series that I can now declare safely to be one of my ALL TIME favorite reads. I will find it hard to move on to something else... so if it falters a bit towards the end...HEY - Wraeththu did a lot worse than that with the first trilogy and I still think the sun shines out of its literary arse.
It was one of the best journeys I took via fiction for many years and I am the kind of reader who appreciate the journey more than its conclusion.
The conclusion of AWESOME is something that I tend to use quite frequently today ^_^.
I think this is a rather drab review in my standard but give me some credit... I am operating on 4 hours sleep and low quality coffee here... you can't expect me to dust up some crude purple yaoi metaphors under such conditions XD.
Cold dinner tonight... BLECH ;_;
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