Top positive review
Talkin' Warlorn Blues, Y'all
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2016
I came across this novel in a funny way. I'm a big fan of the Game of Thrones television series, and while wandering about Youtube, I discovered that there is an audiobook version of this novel narrated by the inimitable Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont). I listened for a while and became hooked on the story, but I'm too antsy to actually complete an audiobook. So, I picked up the Kindle version and was gifted with the very rich voice of Iain Glen to lead me through the story (if only in my head).
This is Marin's earliest published novel, I believe, and while there are some obvious pacing issues and contrived situations (like all of the characters sitting down to dinner to discuss the history of the world), the novel is nonetheless captivating. If you are enthralled by the many houses of the Seven Kingdoms on Game of Thrones, and the unique customs of each kingdom, you will no doubt love the world-building in Dying of the Light. In fact, this is the novel's greatest success. I totally believe there are worlds out there with these unique races that are at once human and fantastical. Some staples of sci-fi exist (air-cars, laser pistols), and gladly so, because the future would be pretty poor without them. However, while the background is science fiction, the foreground is near-medieval. Legends of great creatures make their way into dinner conversation, duels define the outcome of entire families, and honor is paramount.
My favorite creation in the book is the sociological creation of the "teyn". I won't go into too much detail, but Martin creates an entire society that places more value on male friendship/love/hunting than conventional love and that is the driving force of the novel. Essentially, we find ourselves pivoting on the importance of this notion and where it leaves each character.
The cities created on the festival planet of Warlon are detailed and evoke the many culture that exist outside of the story. There is much to be explored in this universe and I find myself wanting more story and more legend.
The secondary characters in the novel are well-developed and fascinating. My favorite is Garse Janacek, a sharp-note, honor-bound man. The characters that exist on the planet of Warlorn all have their motives and their reasons for everything they do. Their society is elaborate and purposeful.
Our protagonist, Dirk, however, does at times seem a little more like Nick Caraway (an observer) than Jay Gatsby--that role would go to the compelling Jann. Martin does not write much of Dirk's own past into the story, and in a world built upon history and legend, it can be hard to relate to the main character without knowing who is he, where he has been, what his life was like prior to the novel beginning.
All in all, this is a fun read with plenty of action and lore for fantasy and adventure fans. There is definitely no missing the forest for the trees here, though it would be nice if the individual trees got a little extra sprucing.