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In the Darkness, Hunting, by Janrae Frank
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Wildside Press
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 7/13/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

In the Darkness, Hunting, by Janrae Frank

Book Review by Susie Hawes

Have you read this book?

Written over a period of twenty years, In the Darkness, Hunting features a character first introduced in the award-winning anthology, "Amazons" by DAW books. This series of shorts explores the world Janrea Frank has built carefully throughout this novel and used in the "Dark Brothers of the Light" series.

One of the themes this novel examines is that of intolerance, as Chimquar, a character with a dark past, lives her life in disguise. The character of Chimquar the Lionhawk is an extraordinary one. Basically a demigoddess, she travels the land incognito, hiding not only her sex but her troubled past and her fame. Her sexual identity must remain hidden in this land, as women who live as she does face an automatic death sentence from any male they encounter. Rather than constantly fight for her life and remain isolated in this culture, Chimquar dresses and acts like a man.

Ms. Frank delves into the nature of human relationships, as well, showing the relationship of this character with the family of her birth, her friends and loved ones and the children she has adopted and how they are affected by living in a male-dominated society, and by Chimquar being forced into the role of a man to avoid constant threats to her life and the lives of her adopted children.

The first story introduces this character and her richly detailed world, exploring her emotional response to her dilemma. She is from a race of female paladins touched with the blood of gods.

The second tale shows the well-known plot of a woman gaining unwanted attentions and being forced to reveal her womanhood. Ms. Frank does not use this as a vehicle for the usual romance. Rather, she shows Chimquar's choices and offers no easy solution to her conflicts.

"A String of Werewolves Teeth" introduces greater detail concerning the evil forces at work in this environment. The Necari, an undead necromancer, is the enemy to be defeated. We learn that the Nakest, a race of man-wolves, are unlike the usual weres. These creatures are more dark and bestial, and serve the Hellgods in this world. Ms. Franks peoples her world and details the cultures with an internal logic that holds throughout the series. In the third story of this book, Chimquar rescues the daughter of a friend and sets events in motion that will eventually carry her back to her homeland.

In the next story Chimquar again faces the servants of the Hellgods. With the aid of a mysterious fortune teller, she deals with natural and supernatural creatures as she travels the battle scarred lands to reach a sea side tower. She reunites with her adopted son, but faces betrayal and wizardly powers to rescue another innocent, thus remaining true to her paladin roots. Finally, near the end of the book, Chimquar goes home to face her past. Will she be punished by her people or find acceptance and forgiveness?

I loved reading this complex and wonderfully detailed book. The beauty and grandness of the land define this world as much as the passions, complexity and cultures of the people. The themes of love, family, intolerance, isolation and redemption are studied as Chimquar's character is molded through a series of events filled with magic, danger and sacrifice. She becomes a warrior fit to champion her people. I give this book a five, and highly recommend it.
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