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Darkness of the Light [Mass Market Paperback]

Peter David
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestseller David sets this clever, fast-paced fantasy on the Damned World (formerly Earth), home to a handful of enslaved humans, a greatly feared Overseer and the exiled inhabitants of the Twelve Races. Having nearly destroyed humanity, a variety of strange creatures now battle each other. Jepp, a freed human slave, joins a mixed-race band of scavengers. The king of the Cyclops orders Jepp's group to steal the Orb of Light from the trolls, believing its magic will destroy the bloodsucking vampires who have stolen his niece. Meanwhile, the Overseer investigates why hotstars, the energy source for most of the tech on the Damned World, are fading out. As Jepp discovers her own hidden powers, the Overseer realizes that the Twelve Races must understand humanity's place in their universe or risk annihilation. David (Knight Life) is a master at juggling multiple characters and plot lines—and, in what one hopes is the first in a new series, breathes new life into some well-worn mythic tropes. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

On the Damned World, formerly known as Earth, humans, or morts, are an endangered species, and 12 exiled races, the embodiments of the monsters of human legends, war over which will dominate the others. Suddenly, their struggles seem to be coming to a head. Former pleasure slave Jepp, rescued by one of the Laocoon Bottom Feeders, who scavenge for valuables in the wake of battle, after her Mandraque owner was slaughtered, and passionate scholar Nicrominus of the Firedraques, an elder of the race responsible for what treaties between races exist, are the key players here. The Bottom Feeders and Jepp get sent on a mad mission to steal something called the Orb of Light for the king of the Ocular, who has been driven mad by grief over his niece's kidnapping by the Piri. Meanwhile, Nicrominus is charged by the Travellers, the right hands of the Overseer who exiled the races to Earth, to investigate why the previously unfailing power source seems to be dying. An entertaining adventure whose cliff-hanger ending confirms that it launches a series. Schroeder, Regina
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.0 out of 5 stars excellent fantasy - SF crossover Nov. 4 2011
By Boris
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Peter David is known best for his work on Star Trek novels (especially his co-created sub-series New Frontier) and his scripting for comic books (Hulk, Spider-Man, X-Factor, Fallen Angel). He had some success with his Arthur Pendragon and Sir Apropos of Nothing series, often he just works as a paid hack to promote existing features (a lot of Marvel movie novelizations, the Fables game), calling himself ironically a "writer of stuff".
So this novel here is a new stand alone feature with characters created by David himself and is intended to be the first part of a trilogy. And I think it is not only one of the best books of Peter David but in my humble opinion in its creation of a whole world of its own on par with Tolkien or Stephen King's Dark Tower. It starts as some sort of fantasy tale but turns out to be SF during the progress of the story. It is not easy to tell more without spoiling the unexpected twists and turns of the plot. Starting very slowly and introducing dozens of characters in different strings of the storyline David describes the fate of the planet Damned World with its Twelve Races on it. After having taken down humanity the Twelve Races fight among each other and are all terrorized by a mysterious Overseer who is in charge of the so called Travellers. Between subplots dealing with some of these races the story prominently follows a pack of "bottom feeders" that take a former human slave with them and slowly learn the mystery of the Orb of Light.
Although the book starts slowly David's writing shines with humor and rich characterization, after some time most of the single strands fall in line. Now I am at odds with the gods of fate and publishing because the second part of this novel is overdue. Well, this just might be because the first volume evidently did not really sell which is a shame!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT start to a longer series... Aug. 26 2007
By Eric Teall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Edit (March 2012): Now that this novel is available as an ebook for a mere $3 and the second novel in the series is available and even better than the first, there is no doubt that anyone who enjoys sci-fi, fantasy, fast-paced plot, or interesting and believable characters should pick this one up right away.

Let's start with the GOOD:

First, the characters are excellent. Mr. David understands choices and consequences are what makes a story happen. If you've liked any of his other books (Star Trek, Knight Life, etc.) for their characters, you will grow to like this one. There's an excellent variety of personalities (as always).

Second, the "Damned World" is very interesting. I felt like I'd read the first 30 pages of this book a hundred times before: various conflicted sci-fi/fantasy races with "dumb" names, the aftermath of a climactic battle and the confused survivors, seemingly pointless political intrigue... etc, etc. I could scarcely believe it was a Peter David book... until the plot really got going. Then the "dumb" names suddenly seemed quite clever, the confused survivors learned some really cool things, and the political intrigue was rooted in characters and situations I cared about. The basic idea behind this book (and series) rivals the coolness of the basic idea behind Bill Willingham's FABLES series, if that tells you anything.

Third, the dialog is sharp and the observations sharper. Very few of the debates between the characters are obviously or pathetically one-sided. While the book's theme comes down decisively on one side of most arguments, the opposite side gets some good shots in. This book excels at calling characters on their BS lines of argument. (Add in a couple of laugh-out-loud hilarious moments, and this novel is just bitingly clever.)

Finally, the last hundred pages are must-read stuff. While I didn't like the first hundred, the tension ramped and ramped until I could not put it down. There are at least two "didn't see them coming" plot twists and a couple of high-concept revelations that make this novel very interesting to this sci-fi and fantasy fan. Mr. David just keeps tightening the screws, and by the end, this book is seriously moving and interesting.

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Now, let's have the BAD: I actively disliked the beginning of this novel. There, I've said it. Mr. David is one of my two favorite authors, so it worried me that I felt the first 100 pages FELT so cliched and clunkily written. It turns out that it's NOT cliched once the book gets going, but the writing in the first hundred pages is weak, especially for such an accomplished author. Luckily, the book gets better, and the last 100 pages is break-neck, can't-put-it-down reading.

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It is worth noting that this is the first book in a longer series. If this were part of a DVD set, this book would maybe be the first disc. I felt about this story the same way I did about FIREFLY (by Joss Whedon) when I first watched it: indifference and a little boredom at first, then passing interest in a couple concepts or characters, then real excitement and concern for the characters and their fates.

If you've ever liked a Peter David series like STAR TREK: NEW FRONTIER, INCREDIBLE HULK, SUPERGIRL (1996), or FALLEN ANGEL, you will enjoy this book. If you haven't liked any of those, give this book (or one of those) a try; you won't be sorry.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shaky start, gripping finish, huge promise June 5 2008
By David C. Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Story: This is the first volume of a new fantasy series, "The Hidden Earth," by Peter David. It's an ambitious job, as he balances a storyline that spans over eons and includes -- even in just the main setting -- a cast of several dozen scattered among multiple races and around the world.

The First Wave of the Banished (from another dimension) showed up during the reign of the dinosaurs -- and engineered those reptiles' demise before turning on each other to similar extinction. The Second Wave occurred in the Bronze Age, and established a rich mythology for humans before they were eventually wiped out. The Third Wave was much, much larger, and the different Banished races -- cyclopean Oculars, vampiric Piri, reptilian Firedraques and Mandraques, subterranean Trulls, aquatic Merks and Markenes, and sundry other species -- were more than numerous and powerful enough to nearly wipe out humanity. Now, some centuries later, the Banished -- lorded over by the Overseer and his Traveller prison guards -- have reached a point of uneasy stability ... which means that plots and counterplots among all the Banished races are about to upset everyone's balance.

David takes a huge risk by spreading the focus to the four corners of the Earth (or the "Damned World," as the Banished call it, for an amusing reason). At times, especially early on, things seem blurry, as we jump from chapter to chapter and from location to location. By the end of the book, things have radically changed, and several of the major protagonists from the first half the novel are done in by the end of the second half. It's at a point where things are just starting to gel and snap into focus ... when the book ends. If the first third of the book feels weak, the last third more than makes up for it.

Which, I suppose, is a great way to encourage folks to pick up the next book.

David does a fine job of interweaving different mythologies, a post-apocalyptic world, a huge cast, and various personal tales into what seems initially diffuse but ultimately cracklingly solid storytelling. There's just enough hint of where things are headed, and what's actually going on (albeit with a bit of perhaps too-explicit exposition late in the game) to keep my interest in Book 2 high.

Characters: As mentioned, there's a ton of characters. The herd is trimmed substantially by the end, as various plots blow up (more or less literally) in people's faces.

The huge cast means that most folks are only lightly sketched out -- on the surface at least. Looking back at it, David manages to make nearly everyone engaging on some level. Even where the roles are shallow, the shallows are at least interesting.

That said, I still really wanted to read more about practically -- well, practically everyone. Which means they are good characters, but not ideally handled.

Re-Readability: I think I could read this one again fairly soon -- the later revelations will provide some level of interest in the foreshadowing. I also suspect that, wherever David is going in Book 2 (etc.), it will make rereading Book 1 both a pleasure and, perhaps, an obligation.

Overall: David is known for a number of things. A lot of imagination. A quick grasp of character. A wry sense of humor. All three of these are on display here, and David is really at the top of his game in each.

That said, I didn't like the book as well as I wanted to. While admiring David's ability to juggle a cast of many, it still suffered (perhaps inevitably, as a setup for where he plans to take us) from too many voices and perspectives. There's 3-4 interesting novels in this one, and cramming them together takes its toll, though David still manages to pull it off, overall.

I'd recommend the book to both Peter David and F/SF fans. 'Nuff said.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first and favorite sci-fi/fantasy book Sept. 6 2009
By Migzilla - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
As far as I can remember, this is the first sci-fi/fantasy book I've ever read. I've been a long time fan of non-fiction books, but wanted to give fiction a shot. I chose this book because I liked the cover. Prior to this book, I wasn't a fan of sci-fi or fantasy.

I didn't expect many plot twists in a book like this, but I got them. I didn't expect to become attached to or care much for any of the characters, especially since there were so many of them, but I did. And when I realized all the races were living on what we once called earth, I was hooked.

Seeing humans, both the good and bad, through the eyes of other races fascinated me. There were even thought provoking lessons to be learned. The Ocular hated the Piri simply because they knew nothing about them. Due to their own ignorance, they became slaves to their fear. And then of course, we have the Markene addiction to klaa (sounds like America's addition to media). And my favorite, Jepp's adventures. I like her most of all because she's human and representing us among the races of the damned world.

I have become a big fan of fantasy since this book, but have only come across very few books that have entertained me as much as this one. I am currently going through it for the second time.

And now, the bad part, where the hell is book 2 of The Hidden Earth Chronicles?!?!
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love Comic Book Writers-Turned-Novelists Nov. 4 2013
By Eric J. Juneau - Published on Amazon.com
This is an awesome book, but I was intimidated by its length. Although it's quite the doorstop, it's also a sprawling fantasy epic that encompasses multiple storylines and races - human, troll, merpeople, cyclops, vampire, etc. I don't read much high fantasy, but I've been meaning to get into it. I read it because it's by Peter David, who I've been meaning to read more of ever since Tigerheart.

But this story's great because it always keeps you going, and all the storylines are set evenly, with interesting climaxes and developments. There are twelve worlds, each with its own race and society, and each has their own storyline. But it's not too hard to keep the characters straight, or remember who's where. The world is complex, but the plot is not. Everything's set up like a domino pattern. The story is where you watch the dominoes fall. It's fast paced. It's fun. And it's worth it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book May 19 2013
By RayGun - Published on Amazon.com
This book is pretty awesome... there's multiple stories going on in it but they begin to slowly converge on each other... as people are searching for answers and trying to save their own world... as you get deeper into it you begin to truly discover the truth of this world and there's a lot of twists and turns that make this an epic adventure... and it's kind of awesome because it flashes back to explain where some of our myths came from and I like how it ties in different tales but it doesn't make it part of the main story... in fact it's not really about myths at all its just kind of like part of these creatures journey in the Damned World...

There's only the slightest bit of a romantic angle that may become more in the next book... for the most part this is all about them trying to find the Orb of Light and discovering what it truly is... along with Gorkon trying to keep his people from being used as they come off the high of the drugs they'd been given... There are no low points... nothing boring or confusing... it's an amazing fantasy novel...

It ends on a big cliffhanger which is why I'm glad the next book is out and will be snatching it up as quick as possible...
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