Dutchman Paperback – 1996
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1st edition paperback vg++ to fine condition. In stock shipped from our UK warehouse
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It reminds me a bit of old Golden Age Sci Fi, particularly stories of peril to the entire universe, like maybe Edmund Hamilton, only fantasy rather that Sci Fi. The two main characters are somewhat cliche in their origins. The Villian, called The Darkling, brings to mind Emperor Palpatine, if the heroes of Star Wars were defeated long ago, and Palpatine went on to rule everything he could grasp, until he couldn't grasp anything more, and so made extreme efforts to gain more power, until it shattered his own universe. The title character is something like the proverbial genius scientist, who discovers a "new power source" that will "remake the world". His plan backfires, and destroys his universe, with unknown help from the Darkling. Then take these two familiar characters, and run time ahead several centuries of repeated destructions of whole universes, creating victims of the cataclysms who are carried along, and then drop everyone into this world. The book might be as dull as other reviewers say, except the point of view is from the aforementioned victims, who are relatable characters who speak in normal english, and have normal human motivations. The ending turns everything around for the Dutchman, leaving the villian cursed forever and defeated. And the ending also is complete, as in there really is no room for a standard sequel, any further tale would be a completely different sort of story.
Well, "one of these days" finally came, and I pulled it off the shelf and reread it, and y'know what? It was far from wonderful. I wouldn't go as far as to call it terrible - the fact remains, I've read worse books, far worse books, but this one's definitly up there with the bad ones.
The plot is unclear. From the start, it's unclear why the Scattered ones are scattered, why they leap - even when it's explained, later on, the explanation is weak. The motive and power and drive behind thier pursor, the Darkling, is unclear. Everything about Dutchman is unclear. And throughout the whole book you can never really get a clear grasp on whether the Scattered ones are the lucky ones, that they can live so many lives, or the cursed ones, to never get to live out one life completely, to be forced to keep moving. The explanation behind the Despair herself is weak . . . a bit of mystery in a plot is a lovely thing, even a bit that remains unresolved to the last, but at least explain properly the things you try to explain! Nothing in this book is really made clear, and as a reader and writer of fantasy, this is quite frustrating to me in a read. The surprises are unsurprising and unexciting. The characters seemed stock as well, the relationships between them one dimensional and either stagnant or too quick, developing in ways that the writer doesn't develop but rather jumps to.
The book is choppy, slow moving, amorphous, and while a clever idea, quite badly executed. In its one defense, the chapter titles made me smile.
I'm giving this book two stars because I really did like it when I was younger, enough to let me remember it fondly for a whole bunch of years. I guess once my tastes got more mature, though . . .
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