Book Review – Black Sun Rising, Book 1 #Coldfire Trilogy by C. S. Friedman

I saw this book on the shelves years ago but I was a starving student at the time and passed up the opportunity to read it then. I won’t lie, the gorgeous cover art dragged me in, but as I read the flap errata in the Waldenbooks, I found myself very intrigued by the premise. The fae are alien, vampiric creatures that feed off of humanity… hmmm. I put the book down and walked out of the store, but that flap’s contents have haunted and influenced my own notions of the “fae” ever since. To that I thank the author, Celia. Recently, I decided to track down that book and thanks to my Google-Fu I found it! This is one of those times where I chastise myself for not buying this gem back when I first saw it on the shelves.

Black Sun Rising is a cross between fantasy and sci-fi (more on the fantasy side) with many dark undertones to it. The main characters are a priest, a human who has traded his soul for eternal unlife, and a sorceress.

Before humans arrived on the alien planet, the world was in perfect balance. If there was a great period of flooding, the creatures would quickly evolve to breathe in and out of water. If one species became too prolific, something would evolve to take it down a notch. Think of Darwin, but on steroids, not directed by random changes in DNA but DNA is changed to fit the new environment. An interesting concept and well portrayed in the story.

In this world, magic is accomplished by the fae who can almost be thought of as a flow of invisible spirits manipulating the world around them. Sorcerers(esses) manipulate the fae to do their bidding while the fae feed on their emotions. Some fae feed on dark emotions such as rage, pain and despair while others feed on joy, love, and faith. Over time demons were “born” out of the humans’ imaginings and took the forms of earthly monsters such as vampires, succubi, and even pagan gods.

The writing has a dark tone to it – scenes of torture and gruesome death are scattered throughout – I had eerie feelings as I read a few certain sections. Mankind fears true night for that is when the most devious fae (and in rare cases men) come out to feast on the humans inhabiting their world. Mankind has somehow learned to survive in this harsh world through the use of suppressing their own emotions, arming themselves with light, and manipulating the fae to protect them from the demons of the night.

The characters in the book are well defined. The priest is kind of a rebel in his own faith, but faith he does have. The undead has a weird sense of honor that makes sense, and the sorceress is an adventurous sort who is not afraid to risk her soul in search of knowledge. I read one review talking about how the characters were flat. I didn’t see this at all.

The story takes you through some twists and turns, but mostly I felt it was pretty straight forward, but not to the point where I ever really knew what was coming next. I really enjoyed this story, but more over I absolutely loved the original ideas behind it and for that reason I am pleased to give this sci-fi crossover fantasy novel 5 out of 5 stars.

You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Rising-Coldfire-Trilogy-Book/dp/0886775272

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