Bantam, August 2003, 6.50, 391 pp.
The Kingdom of Dabion has conquered all its neighbors and repressed their peoples. It is a repressive regime with strictly enforced laws that limit the freedoms of the common person and insure one neighborhood looks like any other. The ruling Lord Justices rule are corrupt and there is much in fighting and intrigue so that distrust colors all actions. Filled with anger and emotional pain, Aron, the son of one of the Lord Justices, detests his father.
Aron's whole life is geared to bringing his father down not realizing that in doing so he will destroy a part of himself. Sent into exile as a prison guard, he meets Julian, a handsome guileless person who just wandered into the prison. For some odd reason a bond of friendship forms between them. When they return to the capital city, it is to find that one of the conquering nations have seceded from the Five Nations and war is imminent. Plague breaks out in the rebellious kingdom and spreads to the untrained and untested Dabion army. Both Julian and Aron make certain choices that will be played out in the next book in this series.
THE BRIGHT AND THE DARK FEELS like a middle book with several threads left hanging. Elzith, the sage from the previous novel CONFIDENCE GAME, plays an instrumental rule in Aron's salvation. Julian is in the middle of the political intrigue and the plague forcing him to grow up and realize what is important. It will be fascinating to see what will be the destiny of these two men but unfortunately, readers will have to wait for the next book to be published to find out.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner