In the kingdom of Collum, Willet Dura makes his meager living investigating crimes. Ever since a terrible battle, he’s had a link to the dead–an uncanny ability to solve their crimes and sense foul play. When several of the gifted are found dead in close succession, Willet suspects a deeper threat and ends up chasing a mystery that will shake his world.
So begins the Darkwater Saga . . .
I had considered the reviewing each book of the series separately, but the reality is they could be one near-1500 page volume, so close do the books follow on each other and so intricately are they entwined. There’s hardly any repeat of information from the previous books (which I, reading them all in the course of a week, appreciated, but I feel for anyone who had to wait a year to complete the series).
This is one intricately-plotted story. Nothing is wasted; everything is important enough to come back again, no matter how inconsequential it seems at the beginning. The world-building is incredibly intricate, with complex politics not only amongst monarchs and their courts, but also within the church (and their relations to said monarchs), and even those politics vary by region, as they would in real life. From one kingdom to the next, cultures change, traditions differ, accents appear. There was a ton of thought put into building this world.
The characters, no matter how young or old, wise or foolish, all have their flaws, and all are given ample opportunity to grow. It’s discouraging at times how long it takes the members of the Vigil to trust Willet, but in spite of his frustration and anger, he doesn’t give in to pettiness, but learns profound grace, as they themselves also learn. I liked how the author created Willet; there is no doubt he’s a good guy, but he is much darker than the typical hero, and he stands out all the more for it.
As allegory goes, it isn’t nearly as heavy-handed as CS Lewis. There are many parallels with the bible–Lucifer’s fall, the triune God, gifts of the Spirit; there are also many parallels with today’s church, in both its truth and brokenness, that can convict from this fantasy world as easily as straight up admonitions from ours. There are powerful examples of grace and redemption, especially in the final volume. The author does an incredible job of pointing to truth while remaining true to the spirit of his story.
While I enjoyed the earlier volumes of the story, the final is truly the masterpiece. I can’t see any way it could have more fittingly concluded the story. It’s bittersweet, as the best heroic tales are (Lord of the Rings, for example), and the world can never be as it once was, but maybe–in time, when healing has run its course and some of the horror has washed away–it can be better, and they’ll be better prepared when evil raises its head again.
The Darkwater Saga by Patrick W. Carr:
0.5: By Divine Right
1. The Shock of Night
2. The Shattered Vigil
3. The Wounded Shadow
A 5-star series.