Dominion: A Coldfire prequel

Dominion: A Coldfire Saga by C.S. FriedmanDominion: A Coldfire Saga by C.S. Friedman

Ever since I read a few novels by C.S. Friedman last year (In Conquest Born, The Wilding, The Madness Season and This Alien Shore) I’ve been practically desperate to begin her more famous COLDFIRE SAGA. Friedman’s stories are smart and creative and I can’t wait to see what else she has to offer. The only thing that’s so far kept me from picking up Black Sun Rising, the first COLDFIRE novel, is that I already have a huge stack (I mean hundreds) of audiobooks purchased and ready to read at Audible and on my bookshelves at home. Mostly I collect these when they’re on sale or when publishers send me review copies, so I hoard my precious Audible credits and spend them like a miser.

But I just don’t know how much longer I can hold out on COLDFIRE. I actually have Black Sun Rising in my Audible library (purchased, no doubt, in some awesome sale) but I don’t have books two and three (When True Night Falls and Crown of Shadows) yet. I picked up Dominion, a prequel to the COLDFIRE saga recently when it was cheap at Audible. And that’s what this review is actually about, so I guess I should get to it.

Dominion introduces Friedman’s well-known anti-hero Gerald Tarrant, a powerful undead magician. In this story he enters a legendary sentient forest full of seductive fae spirits because he wants to test his own power against it. But there are other beings in the forest. One is a pack of wolves, one of whom is more than he appears to be. Another is a young female knight who — along with some companions that have since been slain — has been sent to find and kill evil beings (such as Tarrant) who live in the land. Thus there are four powerful forces in the forest — the wolf pack with its great strength and prowess, Gerald with his dark magic, the young knight with her faith and courage, and the sentient forest which encloses all the others. Each of these forces will be changed by their encounters with each other and the result sets the scene for what’s to come in the rest of the COLDFIRE saga.

Dominion is a short novel, but it’s packed with drama, sharp insights, and dark chills. I didn’t know how to feel about Gerald Tarrant. He seems evil, but I can’t help but admire his curious mind and the scientific way he approaches life. I wanted to know more about him and his “transformation” from human (I assume) to vampire (I assume). There are some provocative hints about his past life in Dominion and I want to know what happened (“If I had not loved God so much, there would have been no power in betraying him”). I also want to know about the world he’s on and the forest that he respects (it reminds me of Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood). Tarrant says he is eager to take up residence in the forest and use its powers to create and evolve new species. I want to see that!

I listened to the audiobook version narrated by R.C. Bray. His voice and cadence were perfect for this sinister story. After finishing Dominion, I was eager to move on to the rest of the COLDFIRE saga. I may just have to give in and spend a couple of my precious credits… After all, that’s what they’re for.


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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

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6 comments

  1. Nice review. You really do need to get to this trilogy soon. :) It’s one of my favorites and Gerald Tarrant is one of my favorite characters ever written.

  2. I read Black Sun Raising (I’m sure you remember my review) and I have the other to books on from the Coldfire trilogy on my shelf, but I’ve never been able to get past that first book.

    Black Sun Raising was very frustrating to me. The plot is awesome, and Gerald Tarrant has got to be one of the most unique and interesting fictional characters, but the book as a whole was about 90% dull and 10% awesome. Some parts I did not think I would ever get through, to the point where I had to force myself to keep from quitting. The world itself was very interesting too, but it was like reading a brochure for it: enough to make you want to visit, but never got to actually go there to experience it.
    I’m anxious to get your take on it, Kat.

  3. I’ve read the trilogy (need to reread and review) but I did not know there was a prequel! I’ll have to put that on my xmas wishlist :>)

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