Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58100-7
Dark Dreams is book two in this author’s The Last T’En Trilogy, of which book one is Broken Vows. I haven’t read Broken Vows, and you know what? I doubt I will. This is one of those fantasy stories that seem to be plotted by drunk chimpanzees who have access to Microsoft Word.
Imoshen (or is it T’Imoshen?) is the heroine, and she is the last of the T’En. What’s T’En? I don’t know. A magical race of Fair Isle, where this story takes place, I guess. I do know the T’En has this way of putting a T before every thing. Like the T’Elegos, and no, I have no idea what the T’Elegos is either. The author drops strange alien names but never explains what they are. Wonder if she can understand this: T’is T’Stupid T’Way T’Doh T’Write T’Fantasy T’Novel.
Of course, Imoshen has magical powers. What’s her power? Uh… I don’t know. All I know is when she needs to do something, whatever she does, that’s her power. She can read minds, warp minds, sense the fetus wriggling in her uterus wall, turn things to pure white marble… well, whenever the author feels like making Imoshen do some cheap plot contrivance thing, it’s all explained by the “mysterious T’En powers”. Look, Ma, I just caused this book to explode in flames, woo, I’m a T’En Babe now, woo-hoo.
Anyway, Imoshen’s people are all enlightened twits who practice some form of martial arts, but only for defense, of course. Not like the people who conquered her lands, led by General Tulkhan, who kill for the sake of killing, yucks, how barbaric. In Dark Dreams, Imoshen is married to Tulkhan, and they are going to rule together. But oh, so many problems, like Imoshen wanting her way and she wanting it NOW. And Tulkhan not trusting Imoshen ever, even though she has proved to him that she is a brainless, spineless moron three hundred times. And Imoshen’s incestuous love affair with her cousin Reothe, who makes Captain Caveman looks like Prince Charming. Needless to say, Imoshen’s sadistic taste in men are just in character with her stupidity.
Never mind the lack of details as to what this freaking story is all about. There’s no logic either. For instance, on one page Imoshen is insisting that all war-like weaponry is barbaric. Then she is asking Tulkhan to teach her to fight. Then she is recoiling at the sight of her people watching Tulkhan’s men fight. But when she decides to show Tulkhan’s people that her people are cool dudes and not just drug-inhaling white-robed hippies, she decides to hold a battle tournament. What on earth happens to consistent characterization?
Then there’s one point Imoshen is hiring interpreters for Tulkhan. But I thought they were talking so well to each other…? No wait, considering the many petty misunderstandings littering this story, I can imagine the need for interpreters. Okay, so that’s not an illogical point. My bad.
And the author treats state politics like a game of snake-and-ladders instead of the chess game it should be. Imoshen wants changes and she stamps her foot – SHE WANTS THEM NOW. Today it is her people showing the foreigners who’s the boss. The next day it’s some trivial other nonsense. She changes the mind the next day. And for this, she is commended by all as a wonderfully brilliant tactician. Yes, insult my intelligence some more, Ms Daniells.
I can’t make head or tail out of this story. The prose is clumsy, lumbering like a drunk, heavily pregnant yak trying to walk the tightrope, and the plot is juvenile and laughable for a political fantasy. For a story like this to work, it takes more than alien sounding names. There need to be a tight plot with set-ups for a grand culmination some time in the future. There need to be cunning political machinations carefully and patiently set up. But Ms Daniells not only demonstrates that she lacks the finesse or patience to do subtle and cunning, she seems to be making things up as she goes along.
Excuse me, but I’m definitely T’Jumping T’Off T’is T’Rain.