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Reviews Comments: Dark of the Moon: a darker sequel to God Stalk, and a tougher read. Chronicles Of The Kencyrath issue/book review by Morven

Dark of the Moon is appropriately named; while God Stalk was a brightly-lit although often cruel place, its sequel plunges into a much darker world. Hodgell wrote this one in a state of deep depression, and although there are moments of joy, this is not a happy book in the least.

It's also much more complicated a story, told in two parallel threads, following Jame in one and her twin brother Torisen in the other as their fates bring them together and far from home. It's a book consisting entirely of travel and passing through, a journey of both the body and the mind for both of them.

The wonders of Hodgell's created world delight as always; it bursts with imaginative, magical touches. Along the way, many seeds are planted for later volumes, and we start to understand the depth of things, and the weight of history behind the very alien world and its people.

God Stalk was the detour that Hodgell found she had to take for Jame to find herself and for the readers to understand her and like her, but Dark of the Moon is the main-line of the epic fantasy story she always wanted to tell. The difference in tone bothers some readers, I think, and the abrupt transition in setting; only Jame, her cat, and her companion Marc are carried over from the earlier book. Having found herself, Jame has to find her people and her world, as well as her personal history. None are all that pleasant.

This is also, much more than God Stalk, not self-contained, but a book in a series. Lots of things are tossed into the air here that do not come down by the close of its pages, and lots of questions are left unanswered. Our heroine is left having found things — her brother, her people — and lost things; but she's more alone than ever by the end, and I think that leaves an unsatisfied feel in the mouths of some.

After this, Jame and the readers were left hanging for many years, until Seeker's Mask; Hodgell lost her publisher, her academic career left her writing career hanging, and personal issues intervened.

Dark of the Moon is a tough book to like, but I feel it's worth it, and especially it rewards rereading and trying to understand it. I'm glad, though, that this was not where Jame was left for all time, in a mask and a badly-fitting dress.


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