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Thr triumph of the Darksword is the final part of the Darksword trilogy, it brings together the story of the anti-magic Joram who has been born on a world were magic is endemic without any magical ability.
Joram has been left for dead but survived, then almost killed in a raid on his now home village and then fled into the wilderness to live a life away from magic with those who have little magical ability. Joram then constructs with the help of a troubled mage a Darksword, a piece of technology capable of attacking the magical society he now wishes to destroy.
The novels are written by two American authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, they are better known for their dragonlance series which I've reviewed previosuly. They are closely linked to the advent of dungeons and dragons in the early eighties and all their novels can be derived from game playing with friends as they are structured in such a way to allow a talented storyteller to lead their friends into complex situations.
This the final part of the trilogy finally explores the distinction between a magical world and a technologically active one, a magical world described here is inherently conservative and a little decadent whereas a technologically one by its nature has to be dynamic and changing. Joram as the non-magical person creates in his own way a new type of magic in the power of technology and through it changes his world forever.
This is a laudable attempt at bringing fantasy into a different sphere of writing, for too long have I wondered why all fantasy novels are set in a world which is basically just pre-gunpowder but which over long periods never really changes. Even if we use the examples in our own history we see huge changes in technology between people we could place in a classical fantasy world. Just look at the concept of medicine between western and arabic culture in and around the time of the crusades? Here were two cultures which had totally different views on how to treat the patient and some of the arab/islamic practices are alarmingly close to modern medicine. Also consider how technologically advanced the Romans were, they were at least 1000 years ahead of their time in certain areas.
So here we have a book which tries to answer a very simple question - what would happen if technology developed on a world where magic is king?
So what happens? well the question and the concept through out is one of the more enlightening fantasy ideas but the writing unfortunately isn't up to the quality of the concept. The writing of the pair is ok, but it will never win awards, its more Terry Brooks than JRR Tolkein. The characters tend, with the exception of Joram the main character, to be a bit one dimensional, they are good or bad, straight or corrupt, friend of foe. There are no shades of grey here.
The story moves on from the end of the Doom with Joram trapped in the afterlife after the Empire strikes back esque ending of the Doom novel. There as predicted really he learns certain truths, but the book is largely a disappointment. The first two novels (if I can use that phrase) build up nicely to a collison between Jorams forces and the forces ultimately of his father (the emperor who when learning of his sons lack of magic discards him). You think this is going to interesting, fascinating, and different. Its certainly different but the ending is one of the weirdiest I can think off and when you consider I'm a sci/fi-fantasy fanatic then thats saying something.
The ending is well totally out of sync with the rest of the novels, it introduces never mentioned characters and gives the ending a drastic and unnecessarily bloody finish. Do I think the editors might have had a hand here? Maybe but the authors let themselves down by letting the trilogy finish in this odd and rather weak manner.
This the final part is actually the weakest of the three novels and in any trilogy that surely can't be a good thing, can it?