I never thought I’d find myself being disappointed with a book by one of the greatest modern day fantasy writers alive. Dying of The Light has so much potential of being a great story but it just fails in so many ways.
The story takes place on the planet Worlorn, a rogue planet that has no true gravitational orbit with any star system and drifts through the universe. For the past few decades, it had been within life-giving range of a six-star system, but now that it's moving away, the planet is slowly dying. The cast is a group of characters who are also flirting with death. Dirk t'Larien, the protagonist, finds life empty and of little attraction, after his girlfriend, Gwen Delvano leaves him. Most poignant of all, the Kavalar race, into which she has "married," is dying culturally. Their home planet has survived numerous attacks in a planetary war, and in response, they have evolved social institutions and human relationship patterns to cope with the deprivation of the war. Yet now that the war is long past, they find themselves trapped between those who would recognize that the old ways need to be reviewed for the current day and those who believe that any dilution of the old ways spells the end of Kavalar culture.
The problem I have with this book is it seems to go from one plot to another leaving each unresolved. At the beginning of the book, Dirk is summoned to Worlorn by Gwen, seemingly desperate for his company. Dirk goes there in hopes of rekindling a romance that fell apart years ago. Then it turns out that Gwen is married or I should say “owned” in this case to a Kavalar named Jaan, who has studied cultures outside of Worlorn so it’s a very big deal that he, in fact, welcomed Dirk upon his arrival since he is an outsider to the planet. It’s very clear that there is no romantic passion in this marriage by the way.
Gwen also is trying to study the dying ecosystem of the planet, despite knowing the planets days are numbered, a plot point that is barely acknowledged throughout the story and is only there to give Gwen a purpose into why she hasn’t left the planet. Also the supposed budding romance between Dirk and Gwen is just aweful, because there are so many moments when Dirk has his head in the clouds and Gwen constantly rebuffs his advances despite CONSTANTLY insisting she needs him!!
Throughout the book, there are these highly conservative Kavalar’s who are after Jaan, Dirk and Gwen, because Jaan is apparently a lot more left wing in terms of his customs and breaking of Kavalar traditions, which does make sense considering the Kavalar is a dying culture so it makes sense to have Kavalar who are very conservative in tradition taking extreme measures to maintain its culture. And yet I am asking myself WHAT IS THE WHOLE POINT!?!
The planet is dying anyway, the 90% of the population has left the planet, unless this is a fictional version of Heaven’s Gate and they all plan to die together at the end of the world, I can’t find any reason they would be so militant in keeping tradition. AND AT THE VERY END OF THE BOOK IT JUST STOPS! Literally on the very last page, the Kavalar’s had caught up with Dirk and challenge him to a duel because earlier in the book, they caught Dirk trying to steal their hovercar, and he had pissed them off by refusing to show up to the first duel that was to take place.
Literally it stops right on what could’ve been a climax!! The only subplot that actually gets an ending is the supposed romance between Dirk and Gwen. Gwen finally decides she is going to stay with Jaan simply because she feels she owes it to him, even though it’s a completely loveless relationship and she was so desperate to get out of it, and constantly hinted that she still wanted Dirk. You know, now that I think of it, George R.R. Martin has a talent for writing characters that I hate. I know he’s notorious for killing off characters without warning, but if he’s not killing me off, he’s making me wish they were killed, or at least maimed.
I think the worst part of all this is that the book has such redeeming features that make it so it could’ve been a great book. The planet Worlorn has such an interesting history, each City has a unique trait about them, and their origins are very complex. The idea of an impending doom is mentioned but never acknowledged by any of the characters, and considering this planet was dying you would think that it would be central to the plot.
There are these creatures called Banshees with fly in the sky of Worlorn, they kind of resemble a cross between manta rays and a flying cloak, (I know that sounds a little silly but it did give their flight patter such a creepy vibe and sort of gave them a ghost-like appearance), but with a large mouth on their underside, they attack their prey by wrapping themselves around its pray and basically its entire underside is its mouth. It’s so creepy but it was amazingly written. The study of the cultures and traditions are so interesting they create the universe within the book. All of this and almost 75% has no effect on the overall plot.
This book had such a thin plot, but there was so much to explore. I only wished there was more to the story. I don’t hate the book, but it was a disappointment.
But these are just my opinions. Have you read the book? Comment below and look out for more of my reviews.