The first volume of the Darkwar Saga, Flight of the Nighthawks, was a throwback book, the best novel written by Raymond E. Feist in years. Into a Dark Realm once again marks the return of the Feist of old. Sadly, it's not the Raymond E. Feist of the 80s and early 90s, but the Feist who brought us books like Krondor: The Betrayal and Talon of the Silver Hawk. Hence, after a ripping yarn like Flight of the Nighthawks, Into a Dark Realm is a disappointing sequel.
As was the case with the Conclave of Shadows trilogy, the main problem originates from the fact that the author manifestly lacks enough material to fill three volumes adequately. Conclave of Shadows, in my humble opinion, should have been a single novel. In the same vein, the Darkwar Saga likely should be a duology.
Into a Dark Realm was a very odd reading experience. Indeed, some of its storylines are fun and interesting. I particularly enjoyed the plotlines pertaining to Tad, Zana and Jommy. Accordingly, they followed the logical progression from the first volume. Miranda's dealings with the Assembly on Kelewan allowed us to see her play a more active role.
Unfortunately, a big portion of this novel revolves around the storyline concerning Pug's visit to the Dasati homeworld. And that's where the story takes an abrupt turn for the worse. The pace becomes increasingly sluggish, and at times the story becomes extremely boring. Instead of relying on his storytelling skills, Feist forces us to endure unending discussions concerning the Dasati and their universe. And after a few of those, it becomes more and more difficult not to lose interest. There is an "insider" storyline, in which a young Dasati warrior named Valko takes center stage. But the alien Dasati culture fails to capture the reader's imagination. Even Nakor and Magnus' presence is nowhere near enough to make things interesting.
There is a pleasant surprise at the very end, something that was truly unexpected. But it's too little, too late. This book is a decidedly uneven effort from an author who is definitely much better than this. At times entertaining and at times dull, Into a Dark Realm just doesn't have enough "meat" to make a worthy sequel to Flight of the Nighthawks.
On a more positive note, Feist does set up everything for the final chapter in the Darkwar Saga. Let us hope that the third installment will live up to the expectations generated by the quality of the first volume of this series. . .
The final verdict: 7/10
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