Underground Reading: Darksword Adventures by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Given this week's theme of conspiracy theories, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Darksword Adventures (1988), may seem like an off the wall pick. First and foremost, Darksword Adventures isn't even a real book. It is fundamentally an RPG gamebook, and a weird one at that.
The Darksword Trilogy (published earlier in 1988) takes place on Thimhallan, a world where everyone has magical powers. A bit like Xanth, except without the kiddie porn or bad puns. Magic springs from "Life" (one's personal energy and a transferable substance) and everyone is born with the capacity to channel one of the magical mysteries (Air, Fire, Shadow, etc). Those rare individuals without the capacity to use magic are deemed "Dead" and systematically ostracised. The trilogy follows the adventures of Joram, the heir to the throne of Merilon, one of Thimhallan's larger city-states. Joram is also Dead, a deception that, when uncovered, leads to his exile.
The series is a black sheep in the stable of Weis/Hickman worlds (metaphor mixed!) and certainly never achieved the popularity of Dragonlance or the Death Gate Cycle. There are a few obvious reasons for this. Joram, the series' putative hero, is an asshole. He's a moaning, emo, whinging jackass. Granted, he's been shafted by the system, but his bitterness makes him a poor guide for a series largely based around immersive world-building.
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