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The New Dark Ages


by Francene Stanley & Edith Parzefall, 2012

The world we know has changed in a great flood. Well, that’s different from nuclear war or zombies, so I’ll go with it. Within a few generations, the world of today has been swept away and the descendants of the survivors have been thrown back into the Dark Ages. This is Corn World, the last known place on Earth. And Britland lies in its westernmost peninsula.

Here we follow Cerridwen, the heroine, as she embarks on a journey across a land unknown to both her and the reader. Cerridwen is a sweet girl, good-hearted, wise in herb lore, and a gifted aura reader. Oh, and she’s the Chosen One.

Of course she’s the Chosen One—she has no character flaws or any kind of imperfections that might make her human.

There are others in this curiously beatific post-Apocalyptic world: Trevly the pig-whisperer, who speaks with animals, brave and clever Aron, and the tempestuous Sasha. Much of the time, the action bounces back and forth between the two couples, Cerridwen & Trevly and Aron & Sasha. That forces readers to keep track of who's who, which is difficult, since Aron and Trevly are pretty much the same character except that Trevly does the pig-talking thing. Amusingly, the first time Trevly and Aron meet, it's when they're both searching for their lost women.

Except for one truly psychopathic rapist, none of the characters in this post-Apocalyptic world seem all that bad. Even the thugs mostly come off as big dumb scoundrels. Sasha finds Boris the Brute as appealing as the clever and handsome Aron. Most of the characters tend to have good reasons to do bad things.

When I saw the word “husk band” in place of “husband”, I thought it was a typo. But since civilization has collapsed and education is nonexistent, a strange new language has appeared for things from the old times. Like “Britland” for Britain, and “Corn World” for Cornwall. So it's a bit jarring when someone uses the word “scientist” instead of, I don't know, “sign twitch”.

Another annoyance is a scene where Boris and Sasha are standing and talking and suddenly a snare trap is sprung. Such a trap is walked into; it does not wait and spring after two people reach a dramatic moment in their conversation. Also, it would probably catch both of them together since they were hugging.

Some of the treasures of this Corn World are bottles and jars containing two hundred year old food. Just a tad past the expiration date.

I think the story could just as easily have been set in the Dark Ages, given the culture and technology of Corn World, and the references to an earlier, but lost era of a great civilization.

Ultimately, “Wind Over Troubled Waters”--a horrible title—is a romance. Make that two romances. Well, three if you count the ménage a trois. As such, I'd chauvinistically give it four stars for women readers and three for men. Men would like a little more action and less of characters wondering if their prospective mate will truly love them. And I think all readers would like the book more if things moved a tad faster.

Nonetheless, it's a well written book with likeable characters set in an interesting world. It's also a nice set-up for the sequel, which I suspect will be more adventurous and more epic.

4 stars

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