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Dark is the Moon    by Ian Irvine order for
Dark is the Moon
by Ian Irvine
Order:  USA  Can
Aspect, 2002 (1999)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Aachim, Faellem and Charon peoples were trapped eons ago on Santhenar, where they mingle with humans. Their leaders desperately seek artefacts which can open the Way Between the Worlds to get them home again. At the same time, they fear the emerging power of the Charon Rulke, imprisoned by them long ago. A series of misadventures have thrown together as lovers the small, but indomitable redhead, Karan, and Llian, a bumbling dreamer of a chronicler. There is an element of mystery to both of them, in particular Karan, who is a triune, a blending of three races. Another key character is Maigraith, who clearly has powerful Charon blood, but has been trained by the ruthless Faellem leader into very low self esteem.

Dark is the Moon is the 3rd volume in the epic series The View from the Mirror, following the fast-paced cliffhanging action of A Shadow on the Glass and The Tower on the Rift. In fact the latter ended precipitously, having thrown Karan and Llian through a gate to an unknown destination. Rulke also fled, leaving the allies half-crippled and in imminent danger from the tower's collapse - into the rift, of course. After their usual disagreements and futile arguments (it's amazing that the allies ever manage to act) they do succeed in extracting themselves and the Mirror from dire peril.

The author gives us a tantalizing glimpse of Rulke's interest in Maigraith, whom he orders his minions, the Gh2sh2d, to capture, but to protect. It turns out that she has her own plans, which end up placing Maigraith in an unusual (for her) position of leadership. This gives her a greatly needed boost in confidence. Along the way Maigraith learns a little more about her own powers and resists Faelamor's control of her. Though Maigraith's character develops in this episode, the author still keeps her true story to himself.

Karan and Llian continue true to form, though poor Llian has a particularly tough time in this volume. He and Karan ended up trapped for a while with Rulke in his Nightland prison. Karan escapes first, leaving the allies with a strong suspicion that Llian, when he follows, has either betrayed them or is under Rulke's mind control. This of course leads to the usual allied posturing, with most of them ready and willing to torture, kill or imprison Llian - a fate resisted by Karan, despite her own doubts of him. Llian is abused on all sides. Love triumphs, but somewhat shakily.

Overall, this third volume advances the main plot on all fronts, along with some sub-plots, like Lilith's search for her father. It develops two significant characters - Maigraith and Rulke. The latter turns out to be a much more ambiguous personality than a simple supervillain. The author hints at motivations for his actions, with which a reader might be able to sympathize. The ending is again suspenseful, leaving Karan and Llian imperilled as always. Though slow to start, Dark is the Moon pulled me along like a tidal wave to its powerful ending - I'm looking forward to the 4th episode, The Way Between the Worlds.
Note: Dark is the Moon will be released in the U.S. in July, 2002.

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