The first book in the Coldfire trilogy.

Publication year: 1991
Format: Audio
Narrator: R. C. Bray
Running Time: 23 hrs, 51 m

The book is set on Erna, a world which humans colonized over a thousand years ago. The planet has an energy field which reacts to people’s feeling; apparently mostly to their fears. I guess fear is such a strong feeling that it’s easy for the energy to pick up. The energy is called Fae. Over the centuries, some humans have learned to use the Fae to their advantage (they’re called Adepts or sorcerers) but most people still fear it. There are at least three different kinds of Fae: Earth, Solar, and Dark. Most humans sorcerers use Earth Fae to do magic.

The Church of Human Unification wants to stop people from using the Fae ever again because in their view the Fae are evil and can only bring destruction to humans. The Church seems to be a descendant of some Christian church.

The main character of the book is Reverend Father Damien Vryce, a priest of the Church. He is one of the very few priests who can also work the Fae and he has come to the city of Jaggonath to teach his skills to others. There he meets the beautiful Adept Ciani and is attracted to her. However, Ciani is attacked by mysterious creatures. She’s alive but wounded spiritually; her magical abilities have been robbed. Damien decides to help her. Against his Church’s orders he, Ciani, and Ciani’s friend and assistant Senzei “Zen” Reese hurry after the creatures.

Damien is essentially a paladin, a character type which I tend to like more than the “bad boys”. He’s a great fighter and devoted to his faith. He’s battled the forces of evil all over Erna. He’s against the Fae but at the same time, he can work them. He seems to use them mostly for healing. At the start of the book he’s rigid in his beliefs but during the story his faith and questioned and he has to make difficult decision, especially concerning one of his traveling companions.

For much of the book Ciani has been robbed of her powers and even her memories, and she has to rely on her companions. However, I was delighted when she turned out not to be wholly good person; she would do pretty much anything to get her powers back.

The trio is soon joined by a mysterious man called Gerald Tarrant. Damien dislikes him instantly. It turns out that his dislike is more than warranted. Tarrant is a fascinating character and I think he’s very complex one, too.

I guess my main problem with the characters was their lack of motivation. Ciani has, of course, a clear motivation in wanting her powers and memories back. But I couldn’t understand why Damien would defy his Church to help her and possibly even lose his life. At one point, he thinks that he could have loved her, given enough time (but I doubt that; he didn’t really know her at all) but I think a much better motivation would have been the simple need to find out what the creatures were and to kill them. Similarly, Tarrant’s motivations are very unclear.

The book is very dark in tone. There isn’t much humor and everything is desperate and depressing. I don’t think I’ll continue with the series.