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Title: All Darkness Met
Series: The Dread Empire: A Cruel Wind #3
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
The Star Rider is not some half witted old kindly wizard who pats people on the head. It turns out he is a master manipulator in thrall to some unknown forces. HE is the agent behind the wars down through the years and it is time for war between the Dread Empire and the Western Nations.
The barbarian war general from the previous book, Ragnarson, ends up being the regent when his wife dies and the queen, who he has been shagging on the side, dies in childbirth. He must fight overwhelming odds, traitors, unstable magic and his own friends trying to kill him.
We also get a brief history of O-Shin, the super powerful magician who is currently “ruling” the Dread Empire. He manages to stay alive and prevent total war until he is killed by accident by someone who is looking for their missing friend.
A running battle is fought, both magical and mundane, and millions of people die. The Dread Empire is pushed back, not defeated and the Star Rider continues his game of war for his unknown reasons.
Ragnarson was the main character and he’s just a jerk. Cheating on his wife just doesn’t work for me.
One thing that dragged this down for me was Mocker’s kidnapping, torture, brain washing and eventual death. He was a character that I actually liked and it felt so wrong for him to go down the path he did. It also made me realize just how nasty magic is. Mocker was compelled to try to kill Ragnarson, his best friend. His free will was negated and he had no choice. I can’t stand that. Even with being a Christian and acknowledging God’s Sovereign Will, I still am a champion of Free Will. That’s why I like Neal Asher as an author, because he and I have extremely different ideas on what Free Will actually is. But anyway. Mocker is killed by Ragnarson when Mocker tries to assassinate him. It was just so wrong.
The battles were fantastic. Bloody, tense, uncertain. No side had all the dibs on getting things right. Somebody always messed up and cost countless lives each time. There was no Chosen One, there was no Victory except complete and utter annihilation of the other side and that didn’t happen because of that wretched Star Rider.
The revelations that he is being punished, in thrall or something to higher powers opens up whole new potential vistas for plot lines. Or it might just be a line that Cook threw in and never visits again. If Mocker can die, then I’m convinced that ANYTHING can happen, however bad, good or stupid it may be.
The confusion I felt in the second book was gone. Lots of references to the previous books helped ground me and kept me from being swept out to sea. I think that fact alone is what raised this up half star, even with Mocker’s demise. I liked Mocker, which is why I keep going on about him.Not sure who I can like in any future books. Of course, Cook might skip a generation or 10 and bring up a whole new cast. I guess I’ll find out when I read the next book in a month or two.