The Last Guardian of Everness
by John C. Wright
Tor, 2004, ISBN 0-312-84871-4
A book review by Elisabeth Carey
After giving us some kickass space opera in the Golden Age trilogy, Wright is now giving us some kickass fantasy, in a series of not-yet-disclosed length called The War of the Dreaming.
The dreamlands are real, and used to interact freely with our world. However, humans couldn't function that way, and now we can interact with those lands and beings only in our sleep. The powers of darkness are not entirely please with this arrangement, and are constantly seeking a break in the barrier. Galen Waylock is the latest of a line of watchmen who have guarded the dream-gate, ready to raise the alarm and summon the Power of Light when the forces of darkness at last make their final assault.
Unfortunately, the Power of Light is not entirely benign, either. It has no time for silly modern notions of human dignity and freedom. It's a better choice than the malevolent forces of Darkness, but not by much.
Galen, in his youth and inexperience, is tricked into giving Darkness a tiny opening. While his spirit is having some very stressful adventures in the dreamlands, his body in this world is in a coma. One of the Dark, Azrael, tempts Raven Varovitch, whose wife Wendy is dying, into making a bargain that lets Azrael hijack Galen's body. "Galen" wakes up, and Wendy experiences an astonishing recovery, and Wendy, Raven, "Galen", and Galen's estranged father Peter, eventually wind up at the Everness mansion, the gate between the worlds, and things begin to go very wrong, very quickly.
As Peter and the others begin to understand the cost of summoning the Champions of Light, they opt for the third choice when the time comes, and a very odd collection of allies takes up the magical weapons intended for the Champions of Light themselves. Each of those weapons, of course, carries its own price, and mortal human beings aren't well-suited either to carrying those weapons or to fighting the Power of Darkness on their own.
Although the Golden Age trilogy was published first, this is apparently Wright's first novel. It starts off a bit slow, with somewhat stilted, awkward language. Don't let that stop you; keep reading. It soon evens out, as Wright hits his stride, and the rest of the book flows in the beautiful, graceful prose that characterized The Golden Age.