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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

A Gripping Fantasy Inspired By Religious Fanaticism

Against the Light - Dave Duncan

I was intrigued to see what this novel would be like since it is published by Amazon’s own fledgling imprint, 47North. However, the author, Dave Duncan, is an established writer of fantasy and science fiction and has produced over forty titles with conventional publishers.

Against The Light is a compelling fantasy set in a country called Albi in which members of a forbidden matriarchal religion, whose adherents are sometimes blessed with magical talents, are persecuted by a hierarchical, patriarchal religion which brands them as heretics and witches, torturing and executing all those whom it discovers clinging to the older faith. As the author acknowledges at the end of the book, the story was inspired by the religious persecutions that occurred during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the attempts by Catholics to overthrow the state which culminated in the infamous Gunpowder Plot.

That is certainly an interesting and unusual departure point for a fantasy and the result is a cleverly conceived story, well constructed with an engrossing plot and bold characterisation. A book of ideas, Against The Light is an exploration of the links between religious fanaticism, terror and statecraft. It is also a thoroughly gripping read.