Reviews of Darkfall (1997)
Review by miss_niss (2005-07-22)
Isabelle Carmody is no stranger to the fantasy genre but this new series shows how she has grown and matured as a writer since the Obernewytn Chronicles. The world of Keltor she introduces to us in this fist book of the Legendsong series, Darkfall, is much more complex and layered than we have previously seen from her. Thankfully she has moved away from the post-holocaust which she has favored in the past, instead the main character Glynn has been thrust into an parallel world totally alien to her. In confronting the strange inhabitants and environment of Keltor, Glynn experiences the same naivetey and confusion as the reader when first plunged into the fantasy. Using this kind of technique, Carmody avoids overwhelming the reader with strange names, places and concepts, which often puts off people from reading fantasy.
Keltor is a varied and rich world with a wide scope of different landscapes, in the first book most of he action takes place in the caves of the island of Acantha. There are a number of different islands on Keltor, each with its own unique landscape, Fromhika is covered in lush tropical rainforests while Acantha is mostly one giant cold moor, with the Acanthans living in dark underground caverns that are linked by a maze of tunnels and runs. The people vary from island to island, and we are given hints of the magical powers that are possible, from 'windwalking' to 'plantsinging' and of course 'visionweaving' (the ability to see the future).
Glynn has a revolve and dedication that makes her an endearing character. She makes mistakes but she relies on her wits and personal strength to get her through, she drives her own path, unlike so many fantasy characters driven by prohpecy or fate. That's not to say Darkfall does not rely heavily on the usual fantasy themes of destiny and prophecy, the epitome of this is Glynn's twin sister, Ember, and her dealings with the soulweaver Alene. The soulweavers in Keltor are reminiscent of Aes Sedai from the Wheel of Time series, and there is the usual myths and beliefs of Good battling Evil, but in Darkfall it becomes more of a subplot than the main story. Perhaps the contrast between Ember's tale (Ember also winds up in Keltor coming after Glynn) and Glynn's is what makes Glynn so likeable, she at least appears to control her own actions and will not be dictated to.
Overall, Darkfall is an enjoyable read, and I can forgive Carmody for not finishing the Obernewtyn Chronicles to take the time out to write it. But only just. Recommended if you enjoyed her other books but this one has been written with slightly older readers in mind. The more colourful setting and charcters might not appeal to those who enjoy the very dark fantasy, Darkfall is not about wars and pain and torture and is quite light on the violence but of course there is the usual undrcurrent of evil and darkness.