Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Book Review: The Keeper's Shadow

The Keeper's Shadow
The Longlight Legacy, book 3
by Dennis Foon

In this exciting and powerful conclusion to The Longlight Legacy, time is running out as Darius, Master of the City, begins to accelerate his plans towards an unknown purpose. People are dying, victims of a new technology that seems to rip out their very life force. And Darius appears to be building a new Dreamfield construction that just may make his power unstoppable.

Roan has found the mountaintop sanctuary of the Apsara, a secret group of warrior women descended from one of the four original rebel armies. There, he attempts to forge an alliance between the Apsara, the Brother - the religious sect responsible for the destruction of Roan's village - and other diverse groups both inside and outside the city, to fight the growing power of Darius. But Roan knows that half the battle will be fought in the Dreamfield, so Roan and Lumpy set off on a quest to find the abandoned Foresight Academy, a school founded by the Dirt Eaters, in hopes of finding a map of the Dreamfield in the library there.

Meanwhile, Stowe has escaped the City, but is alone and in bad shape, possessed by a Dirt Eater bent on using or destroying her. Willum and Mabatan find her, but exorcising the Dirt Eater possessing her could kill her or damage her psyche. While Willum tries to save Stowe, Mabatan works to help Alandra, Roan's Dirt Eater friend, as she suffers Dirt withdrawal.

As the various groups converge on the camp of the Brother for a conference of war, Roan tries to find a way to bring the disparate, and sometimes contentious, groups together. Because only by uniting their diverse abilities do they have a prayer of defeating Darius.

The Keeper's Shadow is not only a worthy conclusion, it's probably the best book of the series. Foon masterfully brings together all the elements that he set in motion in the previous books. Roan really comes of age in this book as he struggles to learn how to be a leader, a role he is reluctantly thrust into. All the other characters are wonderful - deep and complex and often more than what they appear to be. Lumpy really comes into his own, showing a keen intelligence and insight coupled with an empathy that gives him a unique ability to bring people together.

While religious and mystical themes play a role in all the books, they really come to the fore in The Keeper's Shadow. The book probes deeply into questions of faith and belief, as Roan struggles to figure out how to lead a religion he doesn't personally believe in, and other characters are shown to have a surprising faith even in the face of personal knowledge. (I can't say more than that without giving away some plot points). Questions are raised, such as, if a religion or a prophecy is "made up," does that mean that it can't also be true? And, of course, the Dreamfield itself, that mystical "other world" of the psyche, plays a key role, as Roan encounters the living, the dead, and even a god there.

Read my reviews of book 1, The Dirt Eaters, and book 2, Freewalker. You can also read my interview with author Dennis Foon here.

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