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Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin
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Dying of the Light (1977)

by George R. R. Martin

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3.5 stars http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/dying-of-the-light/

In the outer fringe of the inhabited universe, the rogue planet Worlorn falls darkly through space. But years ago it circled the Wheel of Fire, the brilliant wheel-shaped star system that is worshipped by many in the outworlds. Worlorn, the Wheel of Fire??s only planet, was lit for fifty years before it wandered off again. During that half-century, the outworlds held a cultural diversity festival on Worlorn, with each world trying to outdo the others when building their extravagant temporary cities on a planet they knew theyƒ??d only inhabit for a few decades.

Now that Worlorn is fading into darkness again, the cities are almost completely abandoned, but there are a few people left on the planet. When Dirk tƒ??Larien is summoned there by Gwen, the ex-girlfriend he still loves, he discovers that Worlorn is no longer a festival planet. Now itƒ??s dark and dangerous. Worse, though, is that Gwen is now mated to Jaantony Riv Wolf high-Ironjade Vikary, a leader of the Kavalar race which, in order to protect its few women and children, has developed some barbaric customs and codes. Most notably, men form high-bonds with a male partner and may have a wife as a shared piece of property. Jaantony, both a warrior and an academic, is eager for his peoplesƒ?? culture to become more liberal towards women, but his is a minority opinion. The man he is bonded to, Garse Janacek, does not agree. And the larger faction of the Kavalar race, including some who are hunting non-Kavalar humans on Worlorn, is happy to find any reason to pick a fight with Jaantony Ironjade. When Dirk gets to Worlorn, he unwittingly walks right into the middle of a tense situation and only makes it worse.

Dying of the Light, first published in 1977, is George R.R. Martinƒ??s debut novel and itƒ??s impressive. The setting is wonderful: a dying planet getting farther and farther away from its sun; abandoned cities; jungles with strange and deadly life forms; fascinating cultures. My favorite feature was the city of Challenge which is a 500-story building housing thousands of apartments and lots of cool amenities. Because itƒ??s run by machines, much of Challenge is still operative though only a handful of people still live there. The most exciting action in Dying of the Light occurs in Challenge ƒ?? I loved this part of the story.

The clashing cultures that Martin creates are also imaginative and fascinating and he hints at plenty of history and backstory that he never gives us but that make this world feel real. I wish heƒ??d write more about it. Iƒ??d love to read about the fifty sunny years on Worlorn, for example.

Unfortunately, none of George R.R. Martinƒ??s characters are likable. Dirk is passive and Gwen is flighty and indecisive. It was hard to root for them as a couple, especially when Jaantony Ironjade was more interesting than Dirk. Iƒ??d classify Dying of the Light as a science fiction romantic tragedy (in fact, Dirk, who calls Gwen ƒ??Jenny,ƒ? likens their situation to the disastrous love triangle in the Arthurian legend) but the romance and the tragedy would have been more effective if Dirk and Gwen had been admirable characters. As it was, I didnƒ??t really care what happened to them in the end.

Overall, Dying of the Light is impressive and surprisingly sophisticated for the first novel of a young author. If youƒ??re a fan of GRRM, itƒ??s a must-read. Dying of the Light was initially serialized in Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction with the name After the Festival in 1977. The novel was nominated for the Hugo and the British Fantasy Award. I read Subterranean Pressƒ??s recent publication which has wonderful artwork by Tom Kidd (both glossy color sheets and black and white drawings). I also tried Dying of the Light in audio (recently produced by Random House Audio) and was pleased with Iain Glenƒ??s narration. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Loved it
  coralice | Dec 3, 2013 |
This is the first novel by George R. R. Martin that I have read and I was not sure what to expect since he has become so successful in the last decade with the Game of Thrones series. Dying of the Light was George RR Martin's first novel, published in 1977. It is set in his SF 'Thousand World's' milieu. The edition I read included a glossary that was helpful to some extent, but I found some terms that were annoyingly not included in the glossary. As a first novel it exhibits some of the typical weaknesses of the genre, especially as regards to pacing. The first half of the novel is terribly drawn out. There are some moments when Worlorn, the dying planet on which the action of the novel takes place, and its flora , fauna, and dying cities are beautifully described. However, I felt that the plot meandered around without a purpose for a while. In the second half, the book's various story lines coalesced into a much more driven narrative and the pacing ramps up to an ambiguous finale.

The action takes place on Worlorn, a world without a sun, ejected from its home system by a supernova millions of years ago and now hurtling out of the Galaxy. For a few years as it passed the colossal red super-giant star, Fat Satan, and Worlon became a Festival Planet, with millions flocking from the outer worlds to spend a decade partying before it passed beyond the edge of the Galaxy. Now the Festival is over, most of its inhabitants departed, leaving behind a remainder determined to stay as long as possible before the planet freezes and becomes cloaked in eternal night. The story begins when the protagonist, Dirk t'Larien, is summoned to Worlorn by his former lover, Gwen Delvano, for a reason she will not identify. On Worlorn Dirk finds that Gwen is the lover and bonded partner of Jaantony Riv Wolf high-Ironjade Vikary, a visionary leader from the barbarous world of High Kavalaan. And, as he learns more about the Kavalar he becomes convinced that Gwen is ensnared in an unwanted situation. However, as Worlon passes into the night, greater stakes are raised and Dirk becomes caught in a desperate struggle for survival. This abridged version of the plot only hints at the surprising complexity that is encompassed in a novel of less than two hundred fifty pages.
The main characters are well-drawn. However the relationship between Dirk and Gwen seems a slight basis for such an elaborate setting. The Kavalar species have complex codes of honor that seem to alternately control the story and get in its way. The plot also relies too much on coincidence. For example, during a critical passage for Dirk when he is in extreme danger he just 'happens' upon another person who has been killed, thus allowing him to appropriate a weapon that is critical for his continued survival. Without giving anything away I must comment that the ending is weak as well. Overall I was disappointed in Martin's first foray into the Science Fiction novel. The pacing in the first half of the book has a tendency to drag somewhat and I was particularly disappointed at the lack of depth in the narrative given the elaborate nature of the setting. His more recent work has received the imprimatur of popularity and that suggests that he may have improved as a writer. ( )
  jwhenderson | Dec 2, 2012 |
Did not like. Did not finish. ( )
  gravitythread | Jun 3, 2012 |
An interesting effort, but having read later books, not one of the author's best. An early book for him. I found the story a bit disappointing in its emotional arc, and the plot, while taking unexpected twists and turns, left me feeling disappointed. None of the characters were very likable either. ( )
1 vote BryanThomasS | Nov 7, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George R. R. Martinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morrill, RowenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pugi, Jean-PierreTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Voor Rachel
die eens van me hield
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A rogue, an aimless wanderer, creation's castaway; this world was all those things.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553383086, Paperback)

In this unforgettable space opera, #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin presents a chilling vision of eternal night—a volatile world where cultures clash, codes of honor do not exist, and the hunter and the hunted are often interchangeable.
 
A whisperjewel has summoned Dirk t’Larien to Worlorn, and a love he thinks he lost. But Worlorn isn’t the world Dirk imagined, and Gwen Delvano is no longer the woman he once knew. She is bound to another man, and to a dying planet that is trapped in twilight. Gwen needs Dirk’s protection, and he will do anything to keep her safe, even if it means challenging the barbaric man who has claimed her. But an impenetrable veil of secrecy surrounds them all, and it’s becoming impossible for Dirk to distinguish between his allies and his enemies. In this dangerous triangle, one is hurtling toward escape, another toward revenge, and the last toward a brutal, untimely demise.
 
Dying of the Light blew the doors off of my idea of what fiction could be and could do, what a work of unbridled imagination could make a reader feel and believe.”—Michael Chabon

“Slick science fiction . . . the Wild West in outer space.”—Los Angeles Times

 
“Something special which will keep Worlorn and its people in the reader’s mind long after the final page is read.”—Galileo magazine
 
“The galactic background is excellent. . . . Martin knows how to hold the reader.”—Asimov’s
 
“George R. R. Martin has the voice of a poet and a mind like a steel trap.”—Algis Budrys

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When Dirk t'Larien returns to Worlorn, he finds that Gwen Delvano is no longer the woman he once knew. She is bound to another man and to a planet trapped in twilight. Amid this bleak landscape is the clash of cultures in which there is no code of honor.… (more)

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