Reviews of Shadow of a Dark Queen (1994)
Review by wwwwolf (2003-11-05)
Shadow of a Dark Queen is the opening part of the Serpentwar series. Previously (in Riftwar and the couple of books after them), Feist had introduced several great characters and there were a lot of great adventures. Wonderful reads, most of them.
But in Shadow of a Dark Queen, most of that is cast aside. Time goes by, old characters disappear. Here we have Erik and Roo, two guys out of some stinking, miserable country town, and Erik needs to get acknowledged his status as the bastard son of a local lord - and how it goes badly wrong. The beginning was quite definitely not what I expected. It was downright depressing. And it stank. Not referring to the quality of writing - which was still pretty good - but I could almost smell the unpleasant state of the milieu of the beginning.
I was feeling Midkemia wasn't doing well. Which was probably true.
And the adventure kicks off. And then... it won't. Our unlikely heroes end up prisoners in completely inhumane conditions. (And a character from earlier tales comments how cruel it all seems - I found it a nice touch.) And then, the adventure really begins. Sea voyages, burning villages, oh my.
The book was certainly a slap on the face after the nice and clear earlier parts. The book doesn't have as interesting plot as earlier parts, but it's still decent enough and Feist's writing is as good as usual. I particularly liked the last few chapters. The only thing to be wary of is that the tone is far darker and depressing - and at times downright disgusting, and this may not be a good thing. In conclusion, I wouldn't rank it as high as Riftwar, but it's still not bad.