Review

A March Into Darkness: Volume Ii of the Destinies of Blood And Stone

by Robert Newcomb



Wulfgar, enemy of the peoples of Eutracia, is vanquished. The Orb
of the Vigors, bleeding out magical energy, has damaged Eutracia,
leaving its scars across the land. While the citizens rejoice at
newfound peace, Prince Tristan is feeling none of the joy of his
success. Victory came with a price: his wife, Celeste. He is not
the only one to have suffered a loss. Across the Sea of Whispers,
Wulfgar's wife, the sorceress Serena, sets in motion her own
nefarious plot to bring down Tristan.

Prince Tristan and his companions prepare a countermeasure in the
hopes of eliminating the threat from Serena, but events beyond
their control alter the moves they would make. In the Tolenka
Mountains, a menacing wall of azure magic opens and from it issues
forth a dark soul, Xanthus the Darkling, who leaves death and
devastation in his wake. Sent by the Heretics who dwell in the
otherworld, Xanthus is sent to convince Tristan to come and speak
with them. Though he is forbidden to bring the Prince by force, he
uses his malevolence and atrocities inflicted on innocent
Eutracians to sway the young man to his purpose. Yet, even as they
commence their journey, Tristan will find that nothing is really
quite what he believes it to be.

With Tristan removed, the fate of Eutracia falls to his sister,
Shailiha. Reinforcing their resolve, she and her wizard companions,
Faegan and Wigg, must command the Black Ships and commence their
assault on the Citadel. Serena, with the Scroll of the Vagaries in
her possession, seeks to lay a hellish trap for those who would
undo her designs, and also discovers a dark magic that may undo
death itself.

A MARCH INTO DARKNESS marks a great turning point for author Robert
Newcomb. The story really opens up and reveals some of the solid
form that has been shrouded in mystery for so long, especially
concerning Tristan and Shailiha. They continue to grow, but Newcomb
also finds ways to keep interest in characters such as Wigg and
Faegan, and his continued use of the pirate queen, Tyranny, is a
welcome pleasure. Serena, while a continuation of the Wulfgar as
enemy scenario, makes a logical choice as the villain, for who
would want retribution more than one who feels she has been
victimized?

The darkness referenced in the title is multifaceted. It is a march
into Serena's evil conspiracy and it is Tristan's journey with
Xanthus to meet the Heretics, but it is also a march into despair,
sorrow and grief. Many of the heroes are scarred from the events of
SAVAGE MESSIAH, and they bear much weight. Newcomb does a strong
job of showing us how each deals with such burdens and the choices
they make in how to rise or fall because of them.

More than that, though, these elements combine to make A MARCH INTO
DARKNESS Newcomb's best book, in both quality of the story and
quality of the telling. Some argue that he does not display the
skills of Robert Jordan or George R.R. Martin, but he is not meant
to. While Newcomb's work does have its own epic scope, his
storytelling style is more simplistic, more driving and more free.
It is action and reaction, fire and fury, but never at the expense
of depth. The power of a good storyteller is in his or her ability
to captivate and entertain. Newcomb does this in spades, leaving
out extraneous descriptions and narration and keeping the reader
focused on the heart of the story.

One should not attempt A MARCH INTO DARKNESS without first going
through SAVAGE MESSIAH at the very least, though readers who take
up all four previous works (the three books that comprise The
Chronicles of Blood and Stone
, in addition to SAVAGE MESSIAH)
ultimately will find this installment to be an incredible
reward.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on January 7, 2011

A March Into Darkness: Volume Ii of the Destinies of Blood And Stone
by Robert Newcomb

  • Publication Date: January 30, 2007
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN-10: 034547709X
  • ISBN-13: 9780345477095