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The Coldfire Trilogy, by C.S. Friedman

Rating: 4.5 Roses published 1992, DAW

It sounds like your typical save-the-world trilogy. First you meet Damien, a warrior-priest type who is entirely too good for his own health. Then you run into plot device #1, Ciani, aka Damien's love interest. Something happens to Ciani, so Damien get upset and starts rampaging around the country. Then you meet the main character of the three books. At first you think Gerald Tarrant is the most evil, sadistic monster to walk the dark of night. Of course you're wrong, but he did murder his family to become undead, so Damien has a little moral problem with him.

Because of some fine print in Tarrant's immortality contract, Damien and Tarrant find out (to each other's mutual disappointment) that thanks to plot device #1, they have to work together. Hundreds of miles, fights and humiliations later, they realize that at the core of Ciani's problem is this demon who wants to take over the world and use people as an emotional food source. Somehow they manage to decide to remedy the problem together.

The trilogy includes Black Sun Rising (1992), When True Night Falls (1993), and Crown of Shadows (1995). The conflict between Damien and Tarrant is the best part of the novels. Character development seems to be Freidman's strong point, followed closely by visual writing and a firm grasp on her world. The idea of the fae, a natural magical force that responds to human thoughts, is also a worthwhile creative investment on Freidman's part. One of the subtle things I like about these books is that though the world is pre-technologically capable (because of the fae) there was no "this is a man's world" attitude that I find myself clenching my teeth through in other novels. While the first half of Black Sun Rising didn't find a warm spot in my heart because it was slow-paced and the Ciani romance thing felt a little forced, the rest of the series caught me spellbound from there on out.

One last thing: while doing some research on C.S. Freidman, I found a site that listed Tarrant as one of the top ten sexy characters of all time. I'm not sure if I should be scared or if I should applaud.

Review by Michaela Gauthier
Reviewed January 19, 1997

ISBN 0-886-77569-8

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