Book Review - Darien - Conn Iggulden - SPOILERS!
S P Oldham
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
A review of ‘Darien’ by Conn Iggulden.
In my book (pardon the pun) Conn Iggulden is an outstanding writer. I know I have said this before, but his Conqueror series, depicting the life of Genghis Kahn, was a fantastic read. His other historical fiction is none too shabby, either.
I received ‘Darien’ and its sequel ‘Shiang’ as a Christmas present. I thought at first it was another Historical Fiction series, and was pleasantly surprised when I realised that it is actually Fantasy Fiction. I love this genre. Therefore, seeing it done by one of my favourite authors made for a really winning Christmas gift!
From the outset, I was reminded of other characters and settings, the more so as I read on. In particular, in some instances it put me in mind very strongly of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I am not suggesting anything here, it is just that the one reminded me of the other. Even down to character names; Daw Threefold, for instance, making me think of Twoflower, though the characters are very different. Certain areas of the city of Darien would not have been out of place in Ankh Morpork either. Of course, fantastical creatures appear across the genre, and so we have a golem, too, though an unusual one. We also have other fantastical inventions that (I think) Iggulden has added to the mix, such as the Blue Border and the very unconventional Witch who can only draw power from other magical objects.
Tellius and his band of rag-tag boys made me instantly think of Fagin, from Oliver Twist. They are a band of thieving, ragged street urchins. Tellius, a street-wise, deceptively able, conniving old man is their only carer. They even live in a dusty old attic over a workshop. The boys are expected to pickpockets or otherwise beg, steal or borrow to earn their place in the attic. There is also a character called Nancy, though she is not connected to Tellius and the boys.
Darien is ruled by twelve powerful families, a young king its figurehead. These families, naturally, vie for power at every turn. Some families are more powerful than others. Lady Sallet makes for a formidable figure in this rivalry. General Justan commands the Immortals and has plans to take over the city and grab all the power for himself. A group of unwitting individuals, whose fortunes are accidentally joined, help put an end to this, at great cost to themselves.
Of all the characters in this book, I liked Elias best. I like his ability to ‘reach,’ that he is not too magical to have lost his humanity, that he is a quiet, brooding soul who doesn’t really want to have any part in all this. He is forced to take part, for the safety of his children.
I warmed to Nancy as the book went on, though I admit to not being too keen at first, though I couldn’t say why! I loved Daw Threefold, and so was sorry to see him die.
This is a great blend of history and fantasy. I have already started ‘Shiang’ and am looking forward to seeing how the story develops. I hope we meet some of these characters again, especially Elias!