The Coldfire trilogy tells a story of discovery and battle against evil on a planet where a force of nature exists that is capable of reshaping the world in response to psychic stimulus. This terrifying force, much like magic, has the power to prey upon the human mind, drawing forth a person's worst nightmare images or most treasured dreams, and indiscriminately giving them life.
This is the story of two men: one, a warrior priest ready to sacrifice anything and everything for the cause of humanity's progress; the other, a sorcerer who has survived for countless centuries by a total submission to evil. They are absolute enemies who must unite to conquer an evil greater than anything their world has ever known.
The story took me by surprise in that I was not expecting a 'new' spin on such a controversial subject: Religion. You have a group of colonists effectively stranded at the outer edge of the universe on a planet that literally takes their hopes and fears and make them real. The struggle to control the human psyche and the 'monsters' that can be created from it comes down to creating and sustaining a belief system so that they can survive and thrive. However, just like in our own society, there are those that buy into the belief system and those that oppose it. The introduction of an unknown but increasingly powerful villain that requires an equally powerful but somewhat equally distasteful "hero" just makes the story that much more interesting. Imagine the creator of your most cherished and beloved philosophy turning into the very thing you're fighting against. A "creature" that embodies the things you hate and despise the most but, at the same time needing that self same individual to help you save the human race.
The first book took a little long to get around to the actual story and character development seemed somewhat slow; but, as I listened I became more interested in the underlying story. The narrator, R.C Bray did an excellent job, and I look forward to listening to other books he has done.
29 of 34 people found this review helpful
Prelude: A lot of people seem to enjoy this book, so you might as well.
I almost always finish the audiobooks I purchase, and I finished this one. But it was a chore, not a pleasure. The book failed for me on so many levels, but many devolve to a set of unlikable, boring characters with inexplicable motivations.
Why does Damien, a warrior priest, instigate the quest to recover Ciani's stolen memories and adept skills? The author tells us it is because Damien is in love with Ciani, but it isn't believable. He hardly knows her at the start of the journey, and once the journey begins, he mostly avoids speaking with her. Sure, he obsesses over her in countless internal monologues, but it's an illustration of puppy love, not the type of love that would motivate a long journey by a mature man to confront a dangerous foe.
Why does Damien hate Tarrant, the powerful dark adept that joins them on the journey? It could be because Tarrant lacks basic human values, but the author roots the conflict in Damien's religious beliefs. This is emphasized in countless internal monologues, and through some of their interactions. The problem is that the tenets of the religion are never presented. So the conflict, which represents a major plot thread, has no understandable basis. In fact, Tarrant is by far the more interesting and likable of the two characters, which makes Damien's hatred seem churlish.
Did I mention the countless internal monologues, which go nowhere and reveal little? Half way through the book, my greatest wish was to see Damien die a horrible, horrible death. By the end, I was just happy to be finished with him and the rest.
There are things to like about the book, such as an interesting and novel world. Unfortunately, I found it to be populated by tedious characters, a poorly explained magic system, and contradictions that made my jaw drop.
49 of 60 people found this review helpful
The reviewer "William" said it better than I could--this story became a chore to listen to. The story started off interesting and with a cool premise, but by the middle of the story it was becoming clear that the plot was going to progress at a very slow pace, that the characters weren't going to find sufficiently believable motivations, and that the stakes weren't going to be raised any time soon. I consistently found myself asking why this quest was still happening.
The main character makes decisions that are bewildering, sacrificing his core values--and really, the core values of anyone even trying to be moral, that is, "killing lots of innocent people is bad" for a cause he has all but emotionally abandoned by that point.
The stakes are assumed to be high, and "people will suffer if we don't finish this" is used as a justification for helping an evil person who must kill countless innocents to survive. The trouble is that despite the book's description, the story never really gives us any evidence that this is true. The main character wrestles with the moral problems of whether or not he can justify working with evil to fight some vague evil, but never stops to wonder what it is he's actually doing or why.
It just got frustrating.
21 of 26 people found this review helpful
R.C. Bray adds energy and fresh enjoyment to one of my favorite novels by giving a unique voice to each character, and breathing life into the book as a whole. By adopting firm yet subtle accents and inflections he helps give the sense that the regions the characters travel through, as well as the people they meet within, each have their own history and background, even when that was never hinted at in the narration itself. It's nice to hear a fantasy novel where not everyone sounds like they're all from the same country.
As well, one of my favorite aspects of Black Sun Rising (and The Coldfire Trilogy as a whole) is its treatment of "magic" within the book. Friedman has spun a rather unique yet understandable take to it, which allows the reader to quickly learn how it works within this world, as well as what its defining laws are. Something I find rare in most fantasy novels, which too often tend to do little more then just say "What? It's magic! It just works!"
Lastly I enjoy that the each of the characters, while most do fall into some kind of fantasy novel archetype, are all fleshed out, distinct, and well written individuals. They all have flaws as well as strengths just like the rest of us, and even though they live in a world far different from our own, it's very easy to understand both them and their motivations, even if you may not necessarily like or agree with all of them. Most importantly I find that they all consistently stay true to themselves, even when forced to compromise, and are never allowed to suddenly break character just to more easily or expediently further some aspect of the plot.
Overall I highly recommend this audiobook and will be listening to the rest of the Coldfire Trilogy as soon as possible!
19 of 24 people found this review helpful
This book is dark, and it is serious. Book has very interesting settings as well as characters. I always wanted to read a book with a vampire type creature in epic fantasy, and this book does a justice to that specific type of fiction. Vampire discussed in this book, is intelligent, powerful and mysterious. This Vampire has done what an intelligent being with such power would do. As evil as this vampire is described to be, it is still not the main bad guy of the book.
This book is also about conflict, intrigue and pragmatism. A priest that is in conflict within his own church with a lot of intrigue; a conflicted but necessary relationship between a priest and a vampire both of whom cant stand each other, but had to work together to achieve a goal.
This book has a lot of substance, and it brought to light with a very good narrator. Narration is correctly done that it is not overly dramatic, nor it is too passive for the story.
I already am on the second book, and I would recommend this book for folks who are interested in reading a fantasy book with interesting settings and with dark background throughout the book.
13 of 17 people found this review helpful
When I first started listening to this book I was very hopeful. It has an interesting conceit - a world which contains a force that responds to human thoughts and shapes the physical environment accordingly. I found the protagonist, a warrior-priest with a mission, a refreshing change from the usual.
Alas, I got bogged down in the book and found getting to the end difficult. The development of the plot and the characters did not fulfill the original promise. Instead, the story became tedious and repetitive. Motivations were not clear. By the end I didn't care anymore.
Too bad, because it had a great concept.
That being said, others seem to like the book so read the reviews carefully. Perhaps it will be your cuppa tea. Sadly, it was not mine.
10 of 13 people found this review helpful
Before jumping all over me, I want to say that my favorite Fantasy writer is Robin Hobb. I also really like Tess Gerritsen.
Shortly into this I said to myself, I bet that C in C.S. Friedman is a girl's name. This book is very touchy feelie. There are lots of sentences like "He sat heavily in the kitchen chair and wept." This was during a half hour argument this man has with his finance. At times this is very dramatic, almost like a Latin Soap Opera. I pictured in my mind quick close up view of the characters eyes, with dramatic music. Every time someone enters the scene, main character or nobody, we get a full description of everything they are wearing, how the wear it, how fast or slow they are walking and where there eyes are looking. Celia used to be a costume designer. When I bought this, the book had a high rating, but now that I have listen to it, it seems the rating has dropped. I think several other people bought and listened for the same reason I did.
So, what I am saying, is that if you like books written by females with all those things that you girls like to talk about, then this is for you and I believe it is well done.
If you prefer a more manly book on a similar subject, then get Peter V. Brett's, The Warded Man. It is less touchie feelie, but has all the demons and scared of the dark stuff.
31 of 44 people found this review helpful
If I could give this book zero stars I would. I am an avid fantasy fan so in comparison to much better epics, this is horrible. The religious philosophy and magic system are so poorly explained. The characters are so poorly developed. New characters randomly appear and disappear with no explanation. I should have read more reviews. Like other reviews have said, the endless internal monologues of the characters replace normal dialogue. So annoying. The characters actions and motivations are so unbelievable. Do not waste your time or money on this book!
7 of 10 people found this review helpful
The opening of this book was hard to get through as the setting at first seems alien enough to be difficult to grasp and familiar enough to be generic (it's a post sci-fi fantasy). We immediately meet a character who is committing a heinous act and, with no appreciation for who he is, it's jarring and unpleasant to read. Eventually, the book comes into its own, with the introduction of some very enjoyable characters (although they seem a little flat at first).
The magic system presented is more detailed than much fantasy but doesn't quite achieve a level of detail where the reader can appreciate the limitations/strengths of the magic characters without being told directly about them by the narration. It doesn't have as much detail as the Mistborn series, but that also means that it doesn't get bogged down by that detail the way that I feel that Mistborn was.
By the epilogue, I realized that I had actually grown attached to the characters, as I was smiling and chuckling at their actions.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
FOR REAL you need to pay attention to every word. I would recommend this to a dark friend who had not much too do. You cant miss a few words do to a zone out while driving.
If you’ve listened to books by C. S. Friedman before, how does this one compare?
I don't remember
What does R. C. Bray bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Bray is great. Nothing to complain about. I would say he is a 4 out of 5.
Did Black Sun Rising inspire you to do anything?
Yes... read a normal fantasy book. I do love my sword, wizard, and king.
Any additional comments?
The writing style is kind of strange along with the book. Every part of the book seems to show on how dark and wrong it is. It becomes a bore. I understand the authors intent. But it is a tad over done..... Making it dark.Every seen seems to have a description where it explains why every thing will be dark. This is only a skip if you CANT pay attention the whole time. Overalll... its a 3 star.. you can skip this one. But is a Fan-sci book to the extreme.
10 of 15 people found this review helpful