Just in case any of my regular readers haven’t picked up on this by now from the comment threads — this series has both straight and gay relationships, and rather a lot of lovely angst. Slash fans looking for slashy profic should be looking at this one.
Chaz Brenchley: Outremer 3/6: A Dark Way to Glory
It’s the first half of the trilogy’s middle volume, and it’s travelogue time. This is the section where many trilogies sag, but Brenchley paints a vivid picture of desert travel and its hardships and occasional delights. There’s also another display of how very different this series is from standard fantasy derived from Northern European mythology, with the world of the djinn beautifully evoked.
This volume gets the party from the Roc, where they met, to the place in the desert where they get to meet another major character, with some interesting diversions and scenery along the way. At the outset the party consists of Marron, Julianne and Elisande; Rudel and Redmond, the two Surayonese men; and Jemel, the young Sharai man introduced in volume 1 and briefly encountered in volume 2. The party have conflicting interests, not least because Marron and Elisande were involved in the death of Jemel’s lover during the battle in the Roc, but they also have common interests and a common destination. That should be enough to keep the party together, but they aren’t the only one with an interest in the supernatural burden Marron carries.
That burden, the almost-living weapon known as the Daughter, showed the first of its secrets at the end of the previous volume; in the trek across the desert we learn more of what it can do and what it does to its host, and a little of what it actually is. Marron isn’t the person anyone would have chosen to carry it, but proves equal to the task.
And again there are hints of various romantic interests and entanglements, without it being at all obvious how these will eventually be resolved. This segment of the story concludes with another twist of one of the romantic plotlines initiated in the first volume, enticing the reader to read on.
This volume introduces more characters and adds new plot threads without concluding earlier ones, but it does expand on hints dropped in the earlier volumes, adding more depth to the world and the main characters. With the original book being split into two for the US edition, it should be seen as a segment in a long novel rather than a novel in its own right, and in that context offers enough to make for a satisfying read while still leaving the reader wanting to move on to the next volume.