C. S. Friedman confided that she had had an idea for a new Gerald Tarrant story when she agreed to contribute to Speculative Horizons, the anthology I compiled and edited for Subterranean Press last year. I was foaming at the mouth at the very thought, yet I knew that we could never afford to have that story in our anthology. In any event, she wanted to complete Legacy of Kings before tackling that new project.
And then, a few weeks ago, she let me know that the novella was done, edited, and she wanted to know if I wanted to be the first one to review it? Are you kidding me!?! "Hell yeah!" I said! And it was quite a treat, if only for 31 pages, to return to the world of the Coldfire trilogy and rediscover one of my favorite fantasy characters of all time!
Here's the blurb:
Four hundred years after mankind's arrival on Erna, the undead sorcerer Gerald Tarrant travels north in search of a legend. For it is rumored there is a forest where the fae has become so powerful that it devours all who enter it, and he means to test its power.
This prequel to C. S. Friedman's bestselling Coldfire Trilogy (Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, Crown of Shadows) offers fans of the series a hint of Tarrant's secret history, while new readers will enjoy a chilling introduction to one of High Fantasy's most fascinating -- and deadly --worlds.
It's been sixteen years since we last encountered Gerald Tarrant. Far too long for most Friedman fans around the world, I'm sure. But when asked about the possibility of additional short stories or novellas featuring that beloved protagonist, C. S. Friedman told me that this was a one-off. Unless other memorable and worthwhile ideas come to mind, there won't be more of them coming up. Which, as a matter of course, made me savour Dominion even more.
This being a novella, the format precluded too much depth in terms of worldbuilding. Still, Friedman sets the mood perfectly. The narrative grabs hold of you and won't let go. The prose is evocative and the Forest almost becomes a character in its own right. Sure, many will claim that fans are already won over. But it's no secret that the author knows how to draw readers into her tales and Dominion is no different.
The novella features the POVs of two protagonists. The first is, not surprisingly, that of Gerald Tarrant, first Neocount of Merentha. It was a veritable pleasure to revisit a character that has made such an impact on me during the 90s. Although the thirty pages or so don't provide enough of an opportunity to fully appreciate this chance to see Gerald Tarrant in action and witness events unfold through his eyes, I relished every single moment of it. And damn it, I want more! The second is that of Faith, last survivor of a band of knights of the Church hunting faeborn creatures in the Forest. She possesses a special gift known as the Earth's blessing; the fae does not respond to her. Both characters find themselves in the heart of the Forest; one trying to escape, while the other means to best it. I think Friedman created a good balance between the two POV sections throughout the novella.
The relatively short format means that there is not a dull moment from start to finish. Indeed, all too soon you come to the end, satisfied but begging for more. Considering Gerald Tarrant's complex past, one would think that there would be material for several prequels. And here's to hoping that Dominion will be the first of many short form works featuring him.
This novella is a small vignette of Gerald Tarrant's life prior to the Coldfire trilogy, one focusing on his conquest of the Forest. I enjoyed how the author introduced Amoril and how he became part of Tarrant's entourage.
All in all, Dominion is a fantastic read. If you are a C. S. Friedman fan and loved the Coldfire trilogy, this novella is definitely for you!
The final verdict: 8/10
C. S. Friedman's Dominion will be available soon through all the usual e-book channels, in all e-book formats.