by F. Paul Wilson
“If he wants this world, he’s going to have to earn it!”
Nightworld fully unites the surviving main characters from all previous books in the cycle into one cataclysmic battle vs. the end of everything. Mr. Wilson has a talent for building characters we fall in love with, then dispatching them mercilessly in service of the story, so the final cast may be different than you’d think. Since there are 5 previous novels to draw from, the participants in this finale are fleshed out beyond what you’d normally find in a single book; some of those geared for this fight had the better parts of entire standalone novels dedicated to their development(s), so this was an interesting dynamic.
As Rasalom, the devil incarnate, makes his final play to destroy humanity, a small group led by his counterpart, Glaeken, attempts to gather items and forces laid out in the previous novels in hopes to oppose the onslaught of night. For while the sun still shines, each day is progressively shorter than the last, and at night all manner of hell-creatures rip through anything human. Early in this final book, when the end has begun, humanity has less than one week before daylight hours have been reduced to nothing and the sun never rises again.
The story is grand and the characters are compelling, and the fact that pretty much everyone here occupied a starring role in their own narratives from previous works makes for a crowded space as each of our leading actors is reduced to supporting roles by necessity. But it’s tough to fault a book for having too many strong, fully-realized characters.
Nightworld has plenty of horror and a giant-sized portion of empathy for the characters, which makes every torn-off chunk of flesh hurt that much more. These guys weren’t introduced to us 100 pages ago, they were given to us worlds ago and we need them to be ok. So if they’re not, the impact is all the greater.
He picked up his duffel and started for the door, then stopped and turned. “I love you, Carol. I can’t think of a moment when I didn’t.”
And then he was gone.
Final thoughts on the 6 book Adversary Cycle:
“A long dark night of the soul for the survivors.”
The Keep (4 stars) was flavor #1, and it tastes so good it takes almost no time to move into The Tomb (Rakoshi – 4- stars). Everyone’s heard of Repairman Jack and should love the idea of being introduced to an iconic character in the midst of a much larger arc that doesn’t focus on him. The Touch (5- stars), as mentioned in its section was mind-bogglingly good.
There seems to be a discrepancy between the order of the books depending on where you look. Sources lists them in the order they’ve been reviewed here, except the limited edition set reviewed here, in which has Rakoshi (no longer called The Tomb) appears as the third book in the series instead of the second, switching places with The Touch. Since these are all standalone anyway it probably doesn’t matter much, the order they’re presented in here definitely works well. The Touch is so highly charged with emotion it’s the perfect end to the standalone sections before entering into the end of the world trilogy. Borderlands Press must have had their reasons for switching up the established order.
The trilogy itself is a horrific nightmare that hits fever pitch in its second book, Reprisal. This book requires an outstanding introductory novel (Reborn – 4+ stars), and needs an earth-shattering finish (Nightworld – 4+ stars), but Reprisal itself is the peak of horror as many of us will have ever read it.
We’re all heavy readers here, so we all know what it’s like to have an aching attachment to characters so that a void is left behind when they’re gone. One big difference between this series and other powerful ones is this loss is often realized within the story instead of after it’s over. Dr. Wilson is not cavalier with these guys, but he knows exactly when to sacrifice a rook and a bishop for maximum impact in order to keep the king alive for the win.
“You’re not joking, are you?”
“You think I could make up a story like that, even if I tried?”
The Adversary Cycle – 5 stars