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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jesuit Treason Revisited
I had not encountered the works of Scottish-born Canadian novelist, Dave Duncan, before receiving a copy of his latest book, "Against the Light", to review. Considering how prolific this author of fantasy fiction is, with more than three dozen titles in print, this is more than a little surprising; if the quality of this offering is anything to go by, it is also a great...
Published on 22 Jun 2012 by Steve Benner

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More fiction than fantasy
A very interesting book, with a fair share of political intrigue and games, family tragedy and revenge on a background of a world where "talent" is magic. Thus this book ends up delivering something slightly different to a typical fantasy read: I would argue not enough fantasy.
It is well written, good story plot with some believable and strong characters in the...
Published on 29 April 2012 by Amazon Customer


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jesuit Treason Revisited, 22 Jun 2012
By 
Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Against the Light (Paperback)
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I had not encountered the works of Scottish-born Canadian novelist, Dave Duncan, before receiving a copy of his latest book, "Against the Light", to review. Considering how prolific this author of fantasy fiction is, with more than three dozen titles in print, this is more than a little surprising; if the quality of this offering is anything to go by, it is also a great pity!

"Against the Light" is a thinly veiled blending of the state persecution of the Catholics (complete with gunpowder plot) and the fanatical hunting out of witchcraft that was prevalent throughout England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, here transported to a fictional land and embroidered with a few touches of fantasy along the way. The fantasy elements are cleverly and subtly handled, making the book read more as an historical fiction than as a fantasy story per se, though.

Dave Duncan writes with an accomplished and adult assurance that is a pleasure to read in the current age of dumbed-down and action-centred story-telling. If the book has a failing it is perhaps that it flows a little too quickly for its own good, giving the story-line a somewhat contrived feel and introducing an element of predictability to it, at times, that just prevents me giving the book a full 5 stars. Towards the end, it tumbles to an only partially conclusive end, which gives the impression that it could be continued in a sequel, although the author on his blog page is adamant there will not be one.

In summary, "Against the Light" is a good solid yarn about the perennial struggle of the good and the meek against the corrupt and the powerful, with some interesting things to say along the way, and without the constraint of having to be historically accurate in any of its details. Its fanciful setting gives the author free reign to explore a couple of "what-if" scenarios, although sadly he doesn't take these as far as he really might. The book is a fast and gripping read but be warned that there are also some tough sections that are most definitely not for the squeamish.

Recommended to adult lovers of fantasy or historical fiction.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More fiction than fantasy, 29 April 2012
This review is from: Against the Light (Paperback)
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A very interesting book, with a fair share of political intrigue and games, family tragedy and revenge on a background of a world where "talent" is magic. Thus this book ends up delivering something slightly different to a typical fantasy read: I would argue not enough fantasy.
It is well written, good story plot with some believable and strong characters in the lead. Some of the lesser characters are very superficial and maybe if they had been omitted or remained nameless, they would have distracted less.
Overall, a good read and book, but I wouldn't be following this if turned into a trilogy or chronicle as not enough substance or depth to establish itself in the fantasy realm.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Typical fantasy/magical adventure with a dark heart, 10 Jan 2013
By 
JK "Julie K." (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Against the Light (Paperback)
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To summarise the basic plot of Against the Light I'd say it's a typical fantasy/morality tale of good v bad, strong v weak, set in a fantastical age without any particular historical fact. Parts of the novel are good, other parts are poor and typical of the genre. I began to lose interest at around the half way point.

What I did enjoy was the dark, witchcraft, old religion elements which are depicted with quite a lot of brutality as the old ways are forced to make way for the new and; the magic's well handled and written with a lot of imagination. I enjoyed most of the characters and there's enough general suspense and mystery to keep you hooked through the first half of the novel.

I was so disappointed that at a certain point the plot seems to wander off and the fantasy begins to lose it's sparkle. Expecting readers to suspend belief and live within a fantasy for a novel spanning almost 500 pages is a difficult task and one David Duncan hasn't managed in Against the Light. Sometimes fantasy is better when kept short and there's too much padding in here for my own personal taste. Don't misunderstand me; this isn't a bad novel, not by any means, but it's predictable and wanders away with itself for large chunks without really getting anywhere. First half is by far the better half, sorry, but I really struggled to finish reading Against the Light once I'd gone past the first 250 pages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but fails to deliver, 25 April 2013
By 
Catriona Reid - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Against the Light (Paperback)
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An interesting read, this attempts to marry politics, magic, and religion with a fantasy world. There simply isn't enough fantasy, in my opinion. the plot isn't bad, and some of the characters are decent, but the secondary characters are in some cases very two-dimensional and don't really add much. It's not a bad book, and I really like the premise, but there isn't really enough depth here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither one thing nor the other, 24 April 2013
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This review is from: Against the Light (Kindle Edition)
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Whilst I completed it, and enjoyed the story, there is something that never really engaged me, and I cannot truthfully put my finger on it.
The story is not particularly original, and the general thrust of the plot can fairly easily be guessed. The characters are a little one-dimensional, so when they do something odd, it doesn't necessarily come as a surprise, when perhaps it should.
The elements of 'magic' or whatever you want to call it seem to come in merely to be able to move the plot forward, or get one of the characters out of a difficult situation, they didn't seem to me to be an intrinsic part of the whole.
Overall, although I finished the book, I never felt involved in it.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a bit slow and predictable, 31 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Against the Light (Kindle Edition)
I noticed another reviewer comparing this to Lord of the Rings? They must have a different version that the one I read!

This is a well written fantasy with some interesting ideas and an interesting concept based on a spanish inquisition style of church against the generally much softer witchcraft of the oppressed. The magical powers are nicely subdued and the characters are reasonably well drawn.

What I found slightly irritating was that the story itself was a bit mundane and slow paced. Nothing seems to happen very quickly and then suddenly there is a spell of action followed by a long period of not much happening.

The ending seems to imply that there will be a sequel or maybe even a trilogy? I am slightly against trilogies as it means that the writer has to keep us guessing without too much necessarily happening in the middle book. Anyway, a mildly pleasing book but certainly no Lord of the Rings or even Hobbit!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars sadly predictable and formulaic, 13 July 2012
By 
Su (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Against the Light (Paperback)
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This is another fantasy story from author Dave Duncan (who also writes as Sarah B Franklin and Ken Hood) and I have to say I was left disappointed.

The story was familiar - religion runs the country and the religion out of control. Followers of the old religion must battle the current religion to take back control of the country.

I love fantasy stories, they are my not so secret vice, but I found the book sadly predictable and formulaic. Sorry Mr Duncan, I expected better from you.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars against the light, 7 Feb 2012
By 
Mrs. D. J. K. Mcgowan (wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Against the Light (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I sincerely hope Mr Duncan is going to write a sequel to it. I have not read any of his books before this was the first one and I added it to my kindle and did not want to put it down. The story line is good and the fantasy magic etc is not over the top as in some books, not Lord of the Rings, but definitely good against evil.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sagacity & Prescience, 18 Jun 2012
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Against the Light (Paperback)
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Sagacity and prescience are just 2 of many magical gifts empowering characters in `Against The Light', but I needed my dictionary to confirm these meant good judgement and knowledge of events before they happen. Narrative is in a perplexing language style with rather old fashioned words alongside modern expressions, and a further confusion is that many characters seem to undergo abrupt changes in personality, or are summarily written off. In a fantasy setting the story follows an earlier holy war that led to suppression of the losing side and witch hunts, torture, show trials, barbaric executions and various other atrocities, and fears that with creeping corruption of the victors then another holy war or increased repression will result.

The 2 conflicting faiths are the prevailing Religious Order Of The Light with its Sons of the Sun, and the old ways of the Church Of The Mother with her Earth Children. The Order Of Light behaves in similar manner to the Spanish Inquisition and its followers are portrayed as `baddies'. Readers are tempted to empathise with the Church Of The Mother Earth as underdogs, but many of its faithful are tarnished even if not downright `baddies' - one is a warmhearted harlot and another is a maverick assassin! There are not many `goodies' and both sides are guilty of horrific happenings. For me there is too much fantasy about the plot which repeatedly relies on magic to overcome problems or achieve goals. This level of fantasy increase as the story progresses to a rushed conclusion with so many loose ends I detect a sequel!
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4.0 out of 5 stars worth reading, 18 April 2014
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This review is from: Against the Light (Kindle Edition)
Good characterisation. Interesting story line. Excellent concept. Story line kept interest not easily predictable. Would recommend this book to any readers who like fantasy
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Against the Light by Dave Duncan
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