Dusk by Tim Lebbon

Last night I finished Dusk by Tim Lebbon. It took me about two weeks to finish, and some of that lag was due to a lower amount of reading time than normal. I’ve been relatively busy, and thus not able to commit as much time to reading. I just wanted to point out that it was not necessarily a reflection of the book.

Dusk starts out with a Red Monk, who you know nothing about coming into a small sleepy town, slaughtering the whole town trying to get to one person, who actually gets away. The Red Monk ends up dying in the town, after being shot a billion times (and after killing everyone but a thief and the boy he was after). The boy and the thief seperately make their way to the next town, Passive, where the thief (Kosar) meets an old flame (A’Meer), and the boy (Rafe) meets a witch(Hope). In this time, we meet a librarian named Alicia and a miner named Trey. Through the book, the six of them come together for form a travelling group. Many fantastic things happen to them along the way, usually magic induced.

Magic has left the land for the last 300 years, after the Mages took control of it, and used it for selfish gain. There was a large battle (Cataclysmic War), which drove the Mages to the furthest north as they could go, exiling them for the past three hundred centuries. Many people believed that the Mages were dead or never existed, and had little believe in magic anyway. The only proof that they had were the Red Monks (who lived to destroy magic), and the dead machines (a mixture of robot and bionic life). There were people who watched for the return of magic, like the Shantasi’s who wanted to nurture the return of magic and protect it from the Mages. The miner’s lived underground, mining the fledge drug that alters the consiousness of who ever takes it, causing them to travel on what would be known as the “astral plain”, seeking other minds out. They live in nearly complete darkness, relying on their other senses to help them. Very few miners head top-side (out of the mine), until something horrible happens and forces them to leave.

I enjoyed many aspects of this book. I thought that the creatures were very interesting, as well as the take on magic. I found the corruption and decay of society to be intreguing, knowing that most of the decay was from the lack of magic. I also liked how the world was kind of having issues with magic returning (river flowing backwards, the forest without colours). I like that it wasn’t all just peachy keen, and that there were problems with change. I like a few of the characters like Alicia, Kosar, and A’Meer. I thought that the over all plot was good, although a little bit recycled. It didn’t bother me that it wasn’t brand new, as I find very few books these days are.

I also liked the concept of the Red Monks. While it is unbelievable that madness could drive a person to live for hundreds of years, and sustain fatal wounds and still fight, the concept was well played out. I think that I have a stronger ability to suspend belief then a lot of other people, so that might be part of why I liked them. I enjoyed the sections where you would get a peek into their minds, and taste the madness that lived there. I enjoyed the meeting of the Nax with the head of the Red Monks. I enjoyed the scene in the library with the one old monk (even though I hated what he had done).

One thing that I didn’t like about the book was the lack of description. I never got a real feeling for what many of the creatures looked like. What exactly are Tumblers? When he described the hawks, I got an image of flying octapus’ with bird heads! The Nax felt very… bleak, like there was nothing to describe, and if that is physically the case, I think there should have been more information about the Nax supplied.

I disliked the language of the book. I felt that it was jarring to read, that no one in fantasy says “screw” for sex, or whatever. I felt like his lingo and slang was very current, and that it jarred with the tone of the book.

I didn’t like how many of the characters seemed kind of flat, or undescribed. I know that it’s the first part of a two part series (I am assuming – there could be more after Dawn comes out), and thus you have to save some character development for the second book. I guess that you have to find the balance between making a character believable and relatable, and retaining enough information to keep some development back for subsequent stories. I had problems with identifying an age for Rafe. It seemed that sometimes he was 12, and other times, he was on the cusp of manhood (closer to 16 or older). I found it hard to believe that 5 adults would just do what he said, that they would just instantly believe in magic and put all their faith in it. Maybe if Rafe had been a better character, it would have been more believable… but they was it was done was poor. I also dislike how the author treated Hope. He insinuated that she was mad in a couple of places, but didn’t give enough behaviours of a person that wasn’t all there.

All in all, I felt that it was a good story. It had a definite plot, there was movement in the story, and an interesting premise. Mr. Lebbon did a good job developing his world and introducing interesting points, even if I would have desired more description.

I give this book and R rating. While there wasn’t much sex, there was frank discussion of it, often using crude terms. There is a lot of violence, even though it is unbelievable at times, it is still there.

I give it three stars out of five. It could have been better for the reasons I listed above, but it gets a three because it was still a good read.