The world is flat. The plane above is the domain of the gods, serene, self-contained and indifferent to the cosmos beyond. Below is the underworld, where the demonkind sport and plot their mischief, from the petty pranks of the imps to the refined cruelties and pleasures of the demon princes. In between is the mortal world, home to humankind and playground of the demons.
Among the most powerful of the demon princes is Azhrarn, Night's Master, who hunts the dreams of mortals and makes of them nightmares, and who sojourens to the mortal plane in the form of eagle, wolf, or itinerent beggar in his quest for diversion. After the manner of an Olympian of myth, he is ruled by whim, capable of saving an infant and raising him as a beloved plaything, then arranging a horrific fate when his ward rejects him to return to the mortal world, and inadvertantly sowing the seeds of his own possible doom.
After the manner of Ovid's Metamorphasis, In a series of successive, interconnected stories that span thousands of years in this world, Azhran is if not the main character, the only one who consistantly appears, and who acts as the catylist. The reader will swiftly fall in love with the lush, decadant, gothic atmosphere and the characters who make their way through it.
A blind bard with the power to know the history of any object he touches thus falls in love with an imperiled woman and vows to rescue her before they even meet. A tyrant is punished for his hubris. A deformed witch seeks dark powers as a means of revenge on the world that shunned her. Siblings that are one soul in two bodies, separated even before birth, struggle to find and complete each other.
But it is Azhran who appears again and again, and it is Lee's spot-on characterization that makes readers believe that the same being who views humanity as his playthings would, in the end, risk his own existance to save the world from a threat he himself inadvertently created.
On a side-note, I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook, and Susan Duerden's performance perfectly suited the tale.
- Mass Market Paperback: 243 pages
- Publisher: Daw Books (7 June 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0756410959
- ISBN-13: 978-0756410957
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.7 x 17.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 403,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)