Minus the fantasy… the tales could be from today’s headlines on the war in the Middle East…
Tazakul is a dystopic, polluted country where dreams are pursued out of habit since no one can even remember how the war began between their two main provinces. Draka and Dikallah citizens remain trapped in what now seems like a ‘forever war’ in which their lives are reduced to trying to survive car bombs, censorship, refugee camps, sex slavery, chemical weapons, vengeful Witches, and a race of cannibals who travels when it rains… Even though each day is filled with fear, every dawn begins with hope that this one will be the beginning of peace. Humans never learn…
Okay, the full title is The Blind Girl’s Sword: Volume Zero, the Blind Girl’s War. This is the prequel to Before the Sun Goes Down, which is Volume One in the Blind Girl’s War saga which contains the meat of the story. However, as Star Wars has taught us, every tale has a beginning and The Blind Girl’s Sword kicks off the saga in a way that the first three Star Wars movies only dreamed of. Rather than sucking like The Phantom Menace and its ilk, the Blind Girl’s Sword is engrossing and entertaining.
Imagine, if you will for a moment, a world of perpetual war. A place where governments lie to the populace and leaders have absolute control to do things like dig a girl’s eyes out of her head for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No, not America, although the similarities are striking now that I think about it.
The world of The Blind Girl’s Sword is, for lack of a better word, a mess. It’s set in a kind of Middle East where two factions have been fighting for longer than anyone can remember and for reasons no one cares to recall. Coleman fills this world with characters who are basically just trying to survive by whatever means necessary. The sheer insanity of the world at large is undercut by the citizenry of a city that goes about its business mechanically: opening shops, selling banned books, stealing from the leadership, that sort of thing. It’s a richly detailed miasma with hints of the paranormal echoing around the fringes.
Now, as I said earlier, every story has a beginning. This is the lead-in to a much larger (and still in process) work. The Blind Girl’s Sword shows the precipitating events that lead to the events of the rest of the rest of the series. In essence, this shows how intended acts of kindness can lead to monsters and one, random and senseless act can have unintended consequences.
All in all, a masterfully detailed story with rich characters that leaves you wondering where the rest of the series is going to go.