Overview (No Spoilers):
The Darkness That Slept was a monster, marathon of a read at 334,408 words. For comparison, this is on par with other lengthy books I’ve read recently: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin and A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.
While I enjoyed large swaths of this story, especially the very colorful, mysterious characters that the Kozinskis’ created, I found myself struggling to get lost in it. The majority of this book felt as though I was actually reading three very separate, isolated novels that were spliced into one. The transition between chapters/perspectives was jarring enough to have the feel of picking up completely new novels. This effect only grew more pronounced as one progressed further in the novel because each POV change seemed to require an adjustment period to recall where that story had previously left off. That said, I found two of the three tales intriguing and the overarching premise had so much potential that it kept me flipping through the pages out of curiosity.
Even though The Darkness That Slept is already weighty, I found myself wishing for more details during key events, especially those surrounding Valeriius and Dieharamon. Momentous events seem glossed over, with big plot twists coming and going with muted fanfare, to the extent that I would repeatedly have to go back and reread sections to clarify implications. Similarly, I was left with more questions than not after finishing this book as many of the mysteries regarding the magical system were still unanswered. For example, we know very little about the hoarding of souls and what Valeriius’ motivations and powers really are, not to mention Dieharamon’s role in the bigger picture. Additionally, the dynamic between Dieharamon and Valeriius routinely confused me as the warrior would spend entire chapters on his own missions, without his master even acknowledging his absence. Plus, these chapters seemed to include brutality solely for the shock factor, leaving me feeling numb to it by the end. I wanted the effort used to detail these scenes to be redirected toward building tension surrounding the plot twists. That said, I was fascinated by Dieharamon’s tragic tale and the horrors he endured on a daily basis.
Slade’s character alone kept me from putting down The Darkness That Slept. Every time I convinced myself I was ready to stop reading, a chapter about Slade would show up just in time. His character was such a ray of sunshine while simultaneously being a constant enigma. His witty, never-ending monologues were quite amusing, usually ending in some revelation that I didn’t see coming. A story surrounding Slade would have been more than sufficient as the supporting cast around him was equally fleshed out in stark contrast to The North and Dieharamon’s perspectives. Again, the reader was left with very few answers regarding Slade by the end of this novel.
Throughout much of this read, I struggled to be drawn into any of the chapters about The North. Eventually, my curiosity was piqued during an adventure into the land of the fairies, but even then, key details seemed either rushed or glossed over.
After finishing this dense and detailed book, I was surprised that these three independent stories didn’t weave together more by the end. I really enjoyed the vast majority of this novel as the premise contains so much promise, but I finished this read feeling as though I’d just completed three novels set in the same world. Despite its length, I was left feeling as though more details were needed, especially when capturing and building up to crucial plot twists. Overall, The Darkness That Slept captured a middle of the series essence where pawns are being positioned for the larger events to unfold in the next installment across three relatively independent stories.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- What is the extent of Dieharamon’s powers? Does Valeriius really have his soul? Where did Valeriius come from and what powers does he have? No one seems able to match his cunning as he killed or took possession of so many of his rivals, unchecked, throughout this novel.
- Why did Tasha kill her husband?
- There were so many brutal scenes in this book. By the end, I felt like I’d almost gotten numb from the horrors these poor people had to endure.
- Tiberius Whyte was one of the few overlapping aspects of the three stories, and at most his name was being mentioned in rumors. What did he think of Slade’s exploits? How will Slade protect Feylin or will he kidnap her as promised? How will Slade juggle all of these promises? Will he eventually falter during one of his elaborate schemes?
- What are Feylin’s powers and why is Tiberius shielding her?
- What was the purpose of going to the Dream-Caster’s house?
- Honestly, there’s so much in the history of this world and who the players are that I’m still confused about.
- Who was the Accumulary? Why did they reach out to Dieharamon? Why did Sinnitar try to control Dieharamon?
- Will the smiths wake from their slumber?
- Why was Brimares cursed to the Abyss? Who is Thyme and why did he give Brimares his ring? Did Thyme restore her soul?
- Why did Salem let Brimares escape? What are his motivations?
Susurrations: a whispering sound
Quiescent: marked by inactivity or repose
Ursine: suggesting or characteristic of a bear
Umber: a moderate to dark yellowish brown
Ameliorating: to make better or more tolerable
Avowal: an open declaration or acknowledgment
Antecedent: a preceding event, condition, or cause
Gestated: to carry in the uterus during pregnancy
Paladin: a trusted military leader
Tenebrous: shut off from the light
Corpulent: having a large bulky body
Repast: something taken as food
Spurious: born to parents not married to each other
Asafetida: the dried fetid gum resin of the root of several west Asian plants (genus Ferula) of the carrot family used as a flavoring especially in Indian cooking and formerly used in medicine especially as an antispasmodic and in folk medicine as a general prophylactic against disease
Munificence: very liberal in giving or bestowing
Apostate: one who commits apostasy
Misoneist: one who is subject to misoneism
Votaries: one who follows the opinions or teachings of another
Benighted: lacking in education or the knowledge gained from books
Eldritch: strange or unnatural especially in a way that inspires fear
Mien: the outward form of someone or something especially as indicative of a quality
Anathematic: hateful; loathsome