Death of a Darklord Paperback – Aug 8 1999
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About the Author
LAURELL K. HAMILTON has spent over a decade in the dark world of vampires, penning the best-selling Anita Blake series.
From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the beginning of the story one character, Tereza, agrees to take along another, our heroine Elaine, who is dangerously weakened. Doing so doesn't make sense (especially since Tereza's character is suppose to be chock full of common sense).
A main story line is the antagonist persuades an ill, but noble character to lure another into a trap. From the other action in the book it really isn't clear why our antagonist even needs to do this.
Even in fantasy books, the "rules" must be consistent - whatever they are. Here things happen and you have absolutely no clue as to why. For instance, the main character Elaine heals others, toward the end of the book we find this 'healing' goes wrong. Why? To what end? This is never explained and needs to be because it is an important aspect of the story.
This book was a nice second draft and should never have been reprinted. However, with Ms. Hamiltons current popularity the publisher went with it - too bad for Ms. Hamilton.
Other than the nice cover artwork by Jon Foster and Matt Adelsperger - don't bother buying this book. If you feel compelled to check it out, do so from the library! Save your money.
The first 200 pages or so were very interesting with great plot and character development. The characters were really well done, and their interaction with each other was very enjoyable.
Then everything abruptly changed. The author dedicated the book to a pet she lost during the book, and I have to wonder if that happened around page 200. In the last 100 pages, suddenly, the rug gets pulled out from underneath the reader and everything is tied up very fast and messily.
It really feels like this book should have been at least another 100 pages in length, with more in depth exploration of the characters and slower resolution to the conflicts that she'd developed. Instead, everything goes to hell in the course of 4 chapters or so.
There is also no closure to the story of the main character. After things go to hell, before there is any attempt at recovery or damage control by the main character, we pick up with a couple of minor characters and the book then ends.
All in all it started out as a very good read, but ended off leaving me feeling like I needed to read the last 100 pages again in a desperate attempt to try and glean some meaning from the car wreck it turned into.
Laurell K. Hamilton's Ravenloft novel, Death of a Darklord, has achieved an almost mythic status in Hamilton fandom (which is legion, of course), mostly because it's next to impossible to find. At least, I assume that's the reason it fetches outrageous prices on ebay and required librarians to dig into storage cabinets in back rooms to come up with a copy for me to borrow (it took them nigh on a year to locate even a single copy out of circulation but still owned by the system-- it's no longer in circulation because so many copes walked away, never to return). It's not because the book stands head and shoulders, stylistically, narratively, or any other way over any of the other Ravenloft novels.
Of all the lines of fiction put out by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) in the eighties and nineties, only the original run of Dragonlance-- the first ten or twenty novels set in the Dragonlance world-- rivalled the quality of the Ravenloft books. This was, of course, because TSR didn't go to the stock authors for these. They recruited names-- Hamilton, Gene DeWeese, Tanya Huff, Elaine Bergstrom, P. N. Elrod, Chet Williamson, etc. Sure, like everything else TSR, they were formulaic; after all, if you wanted a TSR contract, you played by their rules. But it's possible to do all sorts of things within formula, and good writers adapt. Williamson's novel, Mordenheim, is a standout in this regard. Hamilton's, however, is not.
Some of the blame for the novel's predictability and lack of pace in its first half don't have at least something to do with a moronic copywriter, who left all the first half's suspense for dead after writing a couple of sentences. Yet, still, when one picks up a book by an author whose name is rapidly approaching the state where you have to put "hallowed" before it, you start expecting something roughly akin to what you'd get from an Elrod, a Williamson, etc., rather than a tale which sticks quite closely to formula.
None of this is to say that the book isn't readable; it's just more reminiscent of the later Dragonlance novels, on the continuum of quality, than the earlier ones. Still, if you're a Hamilton fan, or a Ravenloft collector, you'll probably find the outrageous prices this goes for worth paying. Don't let me stop you. ***