THE DARKEST ROAD
Book three of the fantasy trilogy (The Summer Tree, 1984; The Wandering Fire, p. 752), winding up the prodigiously heavy struggle between the numerous good guys and the legions of the evil Rakoth Maugrim. Among various developments, seer Kim compels the peace-loving Paraiko (giants) to join the battle on the side of Good. There's an imaginative and well-handled showdown between good dwarf-king Matt and his evil usurper Kaen. The massed armies of Good, under High King Aileron, mount an assault on Rakoth Maugrim's fortress. Darien, son of Jennifer (who has become Guinevere) and Rakoth Maugrim, steals a magical dagger and, apparently rejected by the forces of Good, decides to join his father. Has he chosen to be Evil? Well, not quite--though the showdown with Rakoth Maugrim is ponderously contrived. As before, Arthur isn't given anything much to do, although Lancelot is permitted a titanic battle with a rock-demon. And there's the usual backdrop of meddlesome gods, mythological borrowings, and ominous utterances--not to mention a cast of thousands with enough names to fill a phone book. Though the outline of a pretty good yarn is sometimes discernible, once again it's buried under layer upon layer of significance, to a density that's often impenetrable. Even the prose weighs a ton ("Through the black night, and through the blackness of what was happening and the pity and horror he felt, Flidais of Pendaran seemed to see, within his mind, a faint, almost illusionary light gleaming in a far, far distance"). Fans only.