Sunday, October 8, 2017

Book Review: 'The Darkness That Could Be Felt' by C. Wayne Dawson

Texas author C. Wayne Dawson presents his second novel – THE DARKNESS THAT COULD BE FELT that promises to be a series called Treasure of the Raven King, of which this is Book 1 – and with the publication of this book he appears to be stepping into the genre of historical myth/fantasy/truth that will doubtless attract a wide audience – especially those who would prefer to look to worlds such as Wayne creates than to glance around at the one in which we are existing at present! Wayne was Adjunct Professor of History for ten years at Mt. San Antonio College where he created the Chautauqua program. There, he enlisted scholars, government officials and activists to discuss and debate social policy before the student body and the media. In addition to novels he writes for The Williamson County Sun, for History Magazine, Focus On Georgetown, and SAFVIC Law Enforcement Newsletter. He is founder of the Central Texas Authors, a collaborative literary group.

Wayne has that inimitable quality of bringing the past alive – whether every character is fictional or real, time has erased many or the boundaries. This is gut wrenchingly well written adventure that pits two different centuries into a trek to find the Raven King’s treasure. The manner in which he opens this epic grabs the reader’s attention immediately: ‘November 1462, Wallachia, near Castle King’s Rock: ““The Mohammedans have found us, Sire.” Vlad Dracula, War Lord of Wallachia and Transylvania, jerked his horse to a stop. Dracula snapped his head around to look at his companion. “How close, Grigore?” An excited buzz broke out amongst the warlord’s ten bodyguards. They came to a halt, sending up billows of dough-colored dust that contrasted with the forest’s darkness. Sweat dripped down their leather armor. Their horses pawed the ground impatiently, straining to resume their canters. Grigore steadied himself with one hand against the back of his panting horse and caught his breath. He turned his steed around and pointed to a mountain pass five hundred feet up the road. “They’re there, Prince. If we pause for a short rest, they’ll be upon us and have our necks.” “Damn. Reversing our horse’s shoes didn’t throw them off our trail for long,” gasped a trooper beside Dracula, fighting to control a mount that grew nervous as the pitch of desperation in the men’s voices intensified. Dracula nodded as he tightened his grip on the reins. He focused on the road climbing sharply to the west. “No one can outrun Turkish cavalry forever, Luca. The spahis never quit.” Cold hatred stiffened him in his saddle. He would love dashing into his pursuers and tearing into as many as possible before they could bring him down. It would be sweet revenge. They had taunted his fiancĂ©e until she flung herself from the castle window to her death. But no, not now. There was something more important to finish, something that would deliciously even the score.’ And so the groundwork is laid and the tension continues.

Wayne’s synopsis is very brief but covers the salient points – ‘Women are disappearing off the streets of Vienna in 1684 and Captain Mathis Zieglar vows to find out why. Defying orders to break off his investigation, he discovers they are being trafficked into the Muslim slave market. His only hope of ransoming them from a life of abuse is to find the treasure of the Raven King. The treasure is a secret code lodged inside an ancient text that will rock the Ottoman and Holy Roman Empires to their foundations.’

This is obviously a book that will become an addictive series – the ground work laid here is strong, well written, and assures us that we must stay the path through this fascinating unfolding drama, a story that mirrors some events of our own time. Grady Harp, January 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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