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When the Gods Slept: Timuras Trilogy, Book 1 Paperback – July 31, 2007
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I'm glad this novel was published under the Allan Cole byline, because it's time for all his work to be gathered for access and comparison. And there's a lot of his work around!
This is a novel to be savored within the context of that overall body of work, both in feature film scripts and the extensive contributions to television show episodes. And it is a case in point in the perennial writer discussion of "should I use a pen name?" There are those who might have advised the established Science Fiction writer to use a pen name for a Fantasy Trilogy.
This novel is a stylistic departure from the terse, tight action style interspersed with exposition that you see in the 8 novel series, The Sten SeriesSten (Sten #1) -- and if you're looking for that action style, this novel does not deliver it.
It is written in the increasingly popular, long-lazy style I might term "panoramic." It gives you a 3-D picture of who the people are, where they came from, where they'd like to go, and then hits you with why their path to that destination isn't going to be very direct.
It has a serious and complicated Romance and pair-bonding thread that is actually part of the main plot and carries a good deal of the theme into that main plot, the clash of two species for dominance of a world.
It also uses a point-of-view shift into the heads of the opponents. If you're looking for a simple story, with just one person to root for, this novel won't make you happy.
If you're looking for a complex novel that tackles the wide-ranging affairs of clashing civilizations (all on one world, so far), with dueling wizards in Magical Combat whose personal lives are at stake, and two species that are close enough to interbreed and far enough apart to want to exterminate each other, all crammed into a situation where the Divine Finger seems absent (maybe), you really need to read this book. It's a page-turner that makes you think ... hard.
The Timura Trilogy is set on some other Earth or in another dimension, and has a history, a science and a geography all its own. But like Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels Deryni Rising (Chronicles of the Deryni) it could easily be an alternate history on this Earth, except in the Timura Trilogy, there are "Demons" who are better at magic than humans, and really have it in for humans.
Also like the Deryni novels, these characters have depth and dimension like real people. They have relationships, friendships, loves, ambitions, goals, and dissatisfaction with the way things are.
In this first novel of the trilogy, two boys meet in a Mountain Village, and discover their destiny in a cave, complete with painting and prophecy -- and a vision.
One boy is the son of the village potter, a Master Craftsman whose family's wares are known throughout the land for the quality -- partly due to the local clay, and partly due to the exquisite skill. This is the Timura family.
The other boy is a visitor taken in as a fugitive from a royal family under attack. There are a lot of people determined to kill this royal heir.
Neither boy really wants to be exactly what his family position seems to destine him to become. There is instant simpatico between them. They want to change the world.
The potter's son, who turns out to have a talent for magic, is sent to school in another town to learn magic.
The royal heir is catapulted into his heritage at the death of his father, and his ambition to unite disparate Kingdoms plus the Demon realms under his throne comes into his reach.
Meanwhile, the demon civilization (if you can call it that) which is locked away by a magical wall on the other side of a desert, finds a way to penetrate that ancient magical barrier to take over the human lands.
The Potter's son and the Royal Heir re-unite and create a fighting force to deal with the invading demon army. These two very different men are so alike they both fall for the same woman, and eventually, in the second novel, for the same horse, a magical horse. This opening novel in the trilogy is the story of how their alliance turns to virulent hatred, and the reasons for that rooted in the lust for power and the power of lust.
It all sounds very simple, but this novel is salted with penetrating observations of human nature and how that nature expresses itself in government, in war, and in love. It's a fast paced page-turner of a novel in a well thought out fantasy world.
While the story was entertaining, the lack of any editing was very distracting. While there are many examples, I will share only one from page 352 (chapter 22):
"Your new title comes flows smoothly to my lips, sir. And I must say it fits very you very well."
I am half way through the second book in the series, and it seems to have been edited, so it is much easier on my pedantic eyes.
All said, a good story that I am looking forward to finishing.