"Then live and be damned." Llewelyn is a brilliant young evil magician who is dying in extreme agony at the foot of his arch-enemy, the good and lawful King Walworth of Threle. Enemy Glory is Llewelyn's astonishing deathbed confession, his alarmingly passionate and strangely lyrical account of his heartbreaking decision to embrace evil, told with wry humor and trenchant irony against an epic backdrop of magic, the gods, betrayed friendship, unrequited love, war, and the rise and fall of empires.
Let's play a game of choice and consequences. What if you had to destroy everything you ever loved or suffer eternal damnation? Enter the dark.
Originally published by Tor Books (Tom Doherty Associates, LLC). A finalist for the 2002 Prometheus Award. Among the books that received the most votes for the 2002 Locus Award for Best First Novel. Chosen by Locus as one of the best first novels of 2001.
This well-crafted first novel about a wizard's education, a sort of Harry Potter on downers, strives for a baroque density reminiscent of the Gormenghast saga, though it's unlikely to achieve the same classic status. The hero, magically ill Llewelyn, is losing his grip on reality, opening the door for the slippery kind of fantasy scenario in which anything is possible. A former friend, the Duke of Walworth, forces herbal medicine into Llewelyn and at swordpoint accuses him of treason, prompting him to tell his life story, which the duke records as a legal document. A misfit child who learned scraps from a small-time neighborhood witch, Llewelyn moved up in the world to attend an official school, studying a complex system of religious magic under vows to work wonders only in service to the state. The disruptions of war broke him loose from Sunnashiven, the city of his early life, and gave him an unaccustomed freedom; apparent friendship in a forest retreat with revolutionaries Walworth and Walworth's sister, Caethne; as well as a real mentor in the scholar Mirand. Llewelyn states that six months with Mirand were more educational than all his previous 17 years together, but agonizingly dwells on his insecurities and refusal to trust happiness. The story ends (with an explicit promise of further volumes) in midcareer, with Walworth employing the medicine and sword once more. Readers who enjoy wallowing in opaquely introspective gloom will have a field day.
An excellent and thoroughly atypical fantasy novel. A refreshingly weird take on the genre, with an anti-hero who is an interesting mix of funny, sad and selfish. In the end, however, it is not the characters but instead the author's incredible metaphors and descriptions that stay with you. One of my top ten.