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Black Sun Rising (The Coldfire Trilogy, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1992
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Praise for the Coldfire trilogy:
"Stunning.... A feast for those who like their fantasies dark, and as emotionally heady as a rich, red wine." —Locus
"Readers will be enthralled." —Publishers Weekly
"The creative genius of C. S. Friedman burns brightly with the publication of her stunning new novel, blending elements of science fiction and fantasy into an extraordinary reading experience." —Rave Reviews
"Complex and compelling ... The richly detailed setting and strong supporting characters give substance to a tale that explores the consequences of embracing evil in hopes of achieving its redemption. A priority purchase." —Library Journal
"Some of the best writing I have seen in quite a while, and the ending is excellent. Buy this one. Don't wait for it to come out in paperback. Very highly recommended." —Science Fiction Review
"A good mystery wrapped in an adventure story and set against an original and often fascinating background." —Science Fiction Chronicle
"Epic fantasy with a keen, dark edge ... shows off Friedman's gifts of craft and authorial insight." —South Bend Tribune
"Words do not suffice to describe the sheer imaginative genius, not to mention incredible power, of Ms. Friedman's formidable storytelling gift—you simply have to experience it." —Romantic Times
"Hard to put down." —Midwest Book Review
About the Author
An acknowledged master of Dark Fantasy, Celia Friedman is a John W. Campbell award finalist, and the author of the highly acclaimed Coldfire Trilogy, New York Times Notable Book of the Year This Alien Shore, In Conquest Born, The Madness Season, The Wilding, and The Magister Trilogy. Ms. Friedman worked for twenty years as a professional costume designer, but retired from that career in 1996 to focus on her writing. She lives in Virginia, and can be contacted via her website, www.csfriedman.com.
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This book features exceptional writing and deeply complex characters in a seamless blend of fantasy and science fiction. Although this story clearly takes place far into the future on a different planet, it still had that classic, dark fantasy feel and atmosphere that I love. And as if that wasn't enough to make me an instant fan, this book features perhaps one of the most memorable and scarily seductive characters of all time - Gerald Tarrant - "The Hunter", Neocount of Merentha, fallen prophet, evil incarnate, all-powerful sorcerer, eater of souls, vampire. As much as his character was intimidating and terrifying, I felt myself falling helplessly under his spell just like one of his victims. His forced partnership with the main protagonist, Father Damien Vryce, has to be one of my favorite literary pairings since Robin Hobb's Fitz and the Fool. I could be endlessly happy just reading nothing but stories featuring either one of these great fantasy partnerships!
At times the book does get a little repetitious, especially when describing how much the two main characters, Gerald and Damien, hate and despise each other, but in the end, it does make their moments of reluctant comradery, respect, vulnerability, and sacrifice for each other that much sweeter, so really I didn't mind the repetition too much.
It won't be for everyone, but for those like me who prefer a slower-moving, character-driven story with a lot of depth and complexity, it's a book that many will find very rewarding and well worth your time. This is no lightweight fantasy - this is a book of real substance you can sink your teeth into. Very highly recommend!
Update 5/29/15 - Just finished the last of the three books in this epic trilogy. This is one of the most carefully planned, engaging, and beautifully written fantasy stories I've ever had the pleasure to read. Every detail from the beginning of this story to the very end ties in together so perfectly. If you're a person who enjoys a deeply intimate, very well-written, character-driven story that leaves you an emotional wreck most of the time (Robin Hobb fans will love this series, although it is much, much darker), then you must read The Coldfire Trilogy.
Book 1 - 5 Stars
Book 2 - 5 Stars
Book 3 - 5 Stars - Note: Book 3 in Kindle version has some SERIOUS typesetting issues - careless spelling errors, words running together, etc.- which only gets worse as the book progresses. You might want to get the actual books instead of the Kindle versions.
I love the moral gray areas it takes you through as well. It's complex and challenging and gives a wonderful sense of tension as the story progresses.
I loved the first half of the book, as we learn about the world and the fae and the characters and the plot takes us on twists and turns. The second half, however, loses itself in action. There is a journey, and a long one at that. Character development seems to slow to a trickle, and we find out little more about Erna and its history. While the complex relationships carried my attention through the first half, they faded away as the story progressed.
The ending is one of the most disappointing endings I've ever read. Imagine preparing a marvelous dinner, and then as it's nearing completion you decide you just don't really care about it, and when it's done you push it off the table, and don't even ask what anyone else thought of it. That's the best I can do without any spoilers. The story has a resolution, but just doesn't care anymore about the motivation guiding the entire thing. The characters continue on to the next book like they're on autopilot.
Later books in the series can seem somewhat repetitive, so perhaps this series would have been better served as single lengthy novel. Still very much worth reading.