I was first introduced to CS Friedman's work with the Coldfire Trilogy, an excellent exploration of the consequences of introducing humans into a world where magic is shaped by belief -- and thus gives life to our worst nightmares. I quickly located her other extant works, The Madness Season (with which I was similarly delighted) and In Conquest Born... which was a story with potential, but which ultimately disappointed me.
The Wilding is a follow-up to In Conquest Born, and the results are similar. The known universe for both books includes two warring empires, the Braxins and the Azeans, both human-based races with substantial changes to the base. The Braxins focused on physical prowess, producing warriors of great strength, great skill, and greater ruthlessness; the Azeans produced telepaths. In Conquest Born pitted the greatest of both races against one another, with unexpected results; The Wilding picks up centuries later, with the consequences.
Unfortunately, the tale fails to compel. In the first novel, it could be argued that the two empires were an elaborate storytelling device designed to represent the tension between the sexes that results in such powerful emotions as love... and hate. Even though the novel failed to clearly make that case, and ended up without anything useful to say, The Wilding completely abandons it; instead relying on a simple adventure tale to carry the story. That, too, falls short, but not disastrously -- except in that the elements of the plot rely for their greater meaning almost entirely on the events of the first.
Unfortunately I cannot recommend either novel. But if you liked In Conquest Born, and have some emotional investment in the results, it might be worth reading the followup. If not, don't bother.
This entry was published Sat Nov 26 12:12:01 CST 2005 by Matthew
and last updated 2013-08-14 09:46:16.0.