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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jamie brown
This is a really great read and I'm a little disappointed it only has four stars on here. This is Martin doing what he does best, creating a unique world and developing engrossing characters. And the ending was beautifully done, just beautiful. I don't even know if I have words to explain why, but the last three or four sentences really stuck with me.

I also found the motivations of the characters very believable, because people tend to do irrational things when issues of love or loyalty are at stake. And yes, I love action. But while the action is light in this, Martin is such a phenomenal story teller I found I didn't miss it at all.

So anyway, don't come expecting ASOIAF, but I've read just about everything Martin has written and this is right on par with all of it. One of my favorites. If you consider yourself a Martin fan, you should really pick this one up. Not to mention the man picks the best names for his stories.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren osborn
An incredible book of archetypal themes and characters. Lost love lost again. The great lost cause. A lost world wandering through our galaxy. An imaginative first novel already showing the promise to come. One of the few I reread periodically.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Dying of the Light begins as Dirk sets off to the dying planet of Worlorn as flawed, confused and hopeful as can be, trying hard but failing to hold on to a golden past that has all but slipped away. There entire cities lay abandoned and trees called Stranglers slowly but surely take over. Time has passed him by, taking with it the purpose and vigor he once had, leaving him empty and unable to give his life meaning. Hope, which arrives in the form of a cold jewel full of whispers, promises and lies, moves him to drop everything and go to this distant planet thinking that he will be able to rekindle and old love with a long lost lover.

The universe Martin creates is breathtaking. The world which is caught between an ominous night and a decadent twilight is traced with a melancholic tone that resonates perfectly with the characters' internal struggles and the novel's general existential themes. A festival city void of life already makes for an interesting setting, yet when coupled with Martin's excellent prose it becomes an immersive environment that inspires personal reflection as well. It's incredibly beautiful, but also tragic and melancholic because it's dying, moving ever farther from the suns which provide life and ever nearer to a lonely desolate cold. People are rare, government is inexistent, lawlessness prevails, and the only moral codes are those that the characters bring with them.

The story Martin tells is, in the best sense of the word, an experience, told at its own pace in a way that few stories are still told today. The beginning is slow, but the buildup is constant, as characters feel each other out and consider their options. Then about half way through, things hit the fan and spiral into utter chaos. Those who have read other pieces of Martins work will be pleased to know that those unpredictable twists that are so enjoyable also exist in this brilliant literary debut.

The characters learn that they are ultimately the choices they make, and those choices can have extreme consequences. The only way for Martin's characters is forward and their slightest hesitation may mean death. All characters are searching for something under the symbolic twilight of Worlorn's skies; whether love, pride, freedom, validation or simply meaning. Yet, the stakes are high and no one leaves unscathed, if they leave at all.

William Faulkner's assertion that only "the human heart in conflict itself... is worth writing about" comes to mind when considering these characters. The action, adventure, drama, sci-fi that is Dying of the Light unfolds parallel to the introspective journeys of a handful of very flawed and human characters. The foreign cultures are interesting and complex, the apparent antagonists are sympathetic and the main characters are damaged.

Like Martin's fantasy, the expected elements of the novel's sci-fi genre are in the background or not present at all. There is little galactic mumble-jumble since the characters are the focus. The story is complex and is built around a gritty realism and tragic beauty that makes for a great read even for those who typically avoid the genre. The novel had a near hypnotic effect on me while I was reading it, causing me to turn page after page unable to stop and always hungry for more. It also left me reflecting about the novel's universe and the bittersweet ending long after I finished. Therefore, I highly recommend this novel, which has become a personal favorite to any reader who enjoys complex imperfect characters, breathtaking settings, existential and introspective themes, or unpredictable plot twists or all of the above.
The Dragon Songs Saga: The Complete Epic Quartet :: Witch's Reign (Desert Cursed Series Book 1) :: Dangerous Women :: Fevre Dream: A Novel :: Dreamsongs: Volume I
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Impossibly imaginative, lost and despairing, but consistently beautiful. It starts a little slow, but it's expansive imaginative universe, breathtaking imagery, and haunting moments that in equal strokes depress and inspire more than make up for it. A one of a kind love story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Being a fan of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, I decided to pick up this novel and see how well he does at writing non-fantasy. I had no idea this was his first novel until I read more on it, and I am pleasantly surprised.

Admittedly, it took me awhile to get into the book: I am not a huge sci-fi fan, and there's so much information in the prologue and first chapter that you have to take in, and it was overwhelming for me. Even in the middle of the book I was confused between which Kavalar was which (I have that problem a lot with made-up names though). It's a fun storyline, but the main characters (Gwen and Dirk) are, in my opinion, very unlikable. Neither has much of a personality. The main Kavalars, Jaan and Garse, once you realize who they really are, are very likable and perhaps the story was meant to be about them and their culture more than Dirk's love story.

Anyway, I was highly satisfied with everything (aside from being confused a few times) until the last three pages, simply because I didn't feel like it was much of an ending.

It's a fun ride though. If you like fantasy or sci-fi, this is a great book to pick up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
While awaiting "A Feast For Crows" I found myself at the airport needing a book to read on the flight, so I decided to go back as had been meaning for some time to read some of Martin's earlier work and was not disappointed.

While certainly not as complex on the intrigue level of the current series, this is a nice high paced (once you get about 30-40?) pages in that you can't put down. The symbolism, emotions, customs, and name origins are all quite fascinating.

As a nice quick escape, I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
A good read, but a bit confusing. A lot of background history and terms (identity) to keep track of. But. this is solved if you go to the glossary at the end of the book, which I didn't do until I finished reading the book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I borrowed this from the library and am actually pretty glad I did because it wasn't really a gripping page turner that you might expect from GRRM after reading ASOIAF. My biggest problem with the book is that for the first 50% or so of the book you really don't get to know the characters very well. I found myself wondering why I should even care about Dirk, Gwen, Jaan, or Garse and I was well into the novel.

I do have to give him credit for his world-building, though. Although he takes hundreds of pages to do it, you end up with a very good grasp of Worlorn and High Kavalaan history. I plodded my way through more than half of the novel before I finally started taking an interest. I did thoroughly enjoy the last half and wish that the excessive pining of Dirk had been dropped.

Not something I'd care to own, so if you can borrow it, do so.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
"Dying of the Light" was George R.R. Martin's first novel, and it certainly shows. He is very ambitious in this initial attempt and the results are mixed. The book is usually catalogued as Science Fiction, but it hardly feels like it. Sure, there is a glimpse of a history of human expansion into other galaxies and even 'Old Terra' is mentioned, but it is a mere background to set the story, not a relevant ingredient. Even when Martin uses scientific aspects ( technological applications ) throughout the book it is in a rather superficial and somehow 'pulp' way; Martin is more interested in the landscapes and in his characters.
As I said, the book feels over ambitious, the length being to short to be able to develop in a proper way the complex cornucopia of names, places, languages and customs that Martin set to create. The drive of the plot depends entirely in the amusing planet Worlorn, a once bright world where for a decade a 'Festival Of the Worlds' was held, but which now is turning dark, little by little leaving the sun than once brightened it. Worlorn is now almost unpopulated but the past glory of its cities still remains and is the stage for a story which moves around a past romance and the traditions of war-like people called Kavalar.
Martin tries hard to make his characters be as 'flesh and bone' as possible but in my opinion he only partially achieves it: At the end of book the Kavalar characters seem much more interesting than the main ones, Dirk and Gwen (although probably that was all along Martin's final intention).
Don't expect a fast paced adventure; Sometimes the story drags with seemingly no apparent direction but Martin is building tension towards a quite philosophical finale when the experiences on this planet have transformed the main character's views on life
It is in the impressive set of vistas from Worlorn that we get the best parts of the novel. The exquisite description of each abandoned city and its secrets already shows the magnificent talent that Martin will develop fully in his most successful saga: 'The Song of Ice and Fire'.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I became a fan of George Martin when I read "The Hedge Knight" in Legends and from there I went straight to a "Game of Thrones." Eager for more of his work, I was browsing in my university's library and came across "Dying of the Light".
I was amazed at the beauty of the writing, the vividness of the imagery, and the originality of the story. I would like to see more stories about the "manrealm" and especially the Kavalaar people (how about some "teyn" poetry?)
I would give this book five stars except the ending was too sad. Actually, it was so sad I've been up late every night for the past week thinking about it. Also, no one I know has ever even heard of George Martin, let alone this book, so I have no one to talk to. "Dying of the Light" is full of dark and lonely imagery, and even though it has made me feel depressed, it is a wonderful story.
(I would have liked to see Garse and Dirk become teyns!)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alannah dibona
Martin has created a strange Kavalar culture, seen through the eyes of a foreigner and outside of it's own context. It is a suspenseful, engaging foreground story, with plenty of background ideas to challenge our own way of thinking.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This is certainly one of those books that if you hate weird of fantasy sounding names you will have problems with. Also has pacing problems as it is rather slow for the first third.

There is an interstellar backdrop to this novel, but pretty much all the story takes place on a planet with atavistic customs, that developed because of an epidemic that killed 99% of women, by only 90% of men.

A man travels that at what he thinks is a request from an old lover. He falls foul of the customs and principles there, and ends up in a duel and on the run with her with people trying to remove his foreign head, and her two 'husbands' if you want to call them that are not very pleased with him either.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
George R. R. Martin really shines in Dying of the Light. Here he has created a world that is slowly sliding into darkness as it moves away from its suns. Set in this melancholy--and strangely beautiful--land is a heart-wrenching story of broken love and struggle. The small triumphs of decency and nobility in the face of hopelessness and fanaticism are Martin's true subject matter. The wonderfully imagined world and the fun futuristic science and technology are just added bonuses.

Readers will come to Dying of the Light for the sense of wonder that Martin brings to his fantasies so effortlessly. They will stay for the truly human characters and deeply affecting stories of unrequited love, sacrifice, and truth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
allison jocketty
This is a novel that I get the urge to read about every five years. A previous reviewer compared this to the classic Casablanca, and I really think it is a fair comparsion. Instead of the Nazis, the main squeeze in this novel is the fact the action takes place on a rouge planet. A rouge which belongs to no planetary system that is briefly made habitable.
As the time grow shorts on this quickly dying planet a reunion of old lovers takes place. However, all is not smooth as different characters with their own agendas mesh to a fiery conclusion that leaves you sad and thrilled with equal measure.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
john misoulis
I first read this book several years ago, and I've searched it out and reread it twice. The imagery and the concepts are out of sight. Martin has created two of the most original worlds in literature, the world of the teyn and the frozen world. I was somewhat disappointed in the resolution of the story. I wanted to stay longer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Most people now know George R. R. Martin from his very succesfull Song of Ice and Fire books, which essentially is a fantasy series. This story is one of his first and very different.

It is set around a small group of characters against a magnificent background, the discarded party planet Worlorn. Descriptions of the story would not do justice to the book so I am not going to try it. What I liked about it, apart from the rich, melancholy, atmosphere, was that as the plot evolves you are forced to change your views of each of the main characters and this in a completely believable way. It has a literary quality quite rare in SF but therefore all the more welcome.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I tried this book out based on the fact that I'm a huge fan of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. The best parts of the book inolve his extensive world building and impressively imagined histories for each of the many divergent cultures in the book. His characterization at times is a little weaker than his current writing, and his plotting isn't as sure-footed either. There are long pieces through the middle of the book which get a bit tedious to read, but almost all can be forgiven thanks to an exciting, propulsive ending that's a real page turner. All in all, not bad.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This is an enjoyable story. Not one of George R.R. Martin's best, but it's a good read. His writing style has evolved over the past 25 years and its very interesting to go back and read one of his earlier works to contrast it with A Game of Thrones and its sequels. For anyone having problems finding the book (the store's main site has listed it as out of print), try the the store UK site. This book, along with Fevre Dream, another book by G.R.R.M., was recently republished in the U.K. and was available at the the store UK site in January 2001 when I purchased it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cassandra d strawn
A bit of Romeo and Juliet in tenth century dying outer world. Lots of clans, codes violence and chase. Good romance and chase sequences and imaginative cities. Catchy dialogue but a stretch for sci-fi. Abrupt ending!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
travis gasper
I first read this book over twenty years ago, and it has lost none of its charm. I am buying it for Kindle, even though I have three other copies.

I won't go into detail about why I like it -- other reviewers have done a good job of singing its praises -- but the characters feel very real to me, and likeable, notwithstanding that they all have flaws.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
One of my all-time favorites. Lost love, bitterness, jealousy, difficult choices, regret, redemption, altruism, and the idea that the easiest path is not always the best path. This book has that and more. I agree with the earlier review - it would make a good movie. It reminded me of Casa Blanca - the beauty of the story is in the lead character's decision to cast his lot with and for something larger than his own jealousy and bitterness. And, in the end, to stand rather than run.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
caroline freilich
This book had been on my reading list for years. I was finally forced to reach for it two weeks ago, when I was looking for a paperback to take with me to the beach and I couldn’t find anything better. Why "forced to"? Because Martin's endless repetition of “everything's horrible and everyone dies” has never made him a particular favourite of mine. I don’t understand how the mixture of senseless violence, broodiness, despondency and Martin's penchant for morally despicable characters can appeal to anyone – but to each, their own, as others would say.

The novel starts when the main protagonist, Dirk t'Larien, who feels empty, tired and despondent, gets a message from a former lover of his, Gwen, asking for help. The message briefly rekindles his hopes for the future, and he rushes to her rescue… only to find out that Gwen is married, and so he is back to being empty, tired and despondent. Then our dear Mr t'Larien discovers that Gwen is unhappy and trapped in her marriage, which is not even a marriage after all. He escapes with her and again feels elated and hopeful... for about five pages, then we go back to the same old empty, tired and despondent (surprise!). It was right about this time that I decided that enough is enough and threw out the book into the nearest bin.

The book does actually have some redeeming qualities. I particularly enjoyed the overview of the different human cultures, especially that of High Kavalaar. But but but… The wallowing in self-pity, the suicidal thoughts, the constant references to death, the elegiac tone, the thoroughly pathetic main character are just too much. And if that is not enough: Wikipedia is kind enough to inform us that "pretty much all characters die" by the end of the novel. They weren't many, but I guess Mr. Martin needed some practice for the Red Wedding so he started off small. Ah, bless.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kit chen
Like most people, I approached this George R.R. Martin novel after I ran out of words from his Ice and Fire books. Needless to say I was a bit skeptical...I mean cmon who can top A Storm of Swords and the like? I didn't think anyone could, including George.

I read the book in three says sitting outside the college library.

An awesome book. Period. And I say damn him cus he ends it with the reader wanting more and more. Make it a trilogy Martin!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
[No Spoilers: only the setup is described].

Stupid Planet is a rogue planet, frozen and lifeless, floating aimlessly through space. It is a planet with no purpose. This, however, makes it deeply significant - a metaphor for the pointlessness of human existence.

Stupid Planet was first discovered during the Hrangan Wars by the warship Mao Tse-Tung, when the Mao became the first man-ship to pass beyond the Veil and enter the stars of the Fringe.

Haha! No. Actually, the Mao was a derelict. Its crewmen were dead, their bloated corpses bouncing off the walls! No-one noticed when, by amazing random coincidence, it passed within a few light-minutes of Stupid Planet. Actually, Stupid Planet was not discovered until 700 years later, when a salvage crew discovered the Mao, reviewed her data records, and found a record of Stupid Planet.

Haha! No. Actually, the Mao has nothing AT ALL to do with the discovery of Stupid Planet, because by the time the Mao was salvaged, Stupid Planet had already been discovered, and no-one cared that Mao's automated sensors had seen it first. The Mao is mentioned only to say "bloated corpses bouncing off the walls" - a metaphor for the pointlessness of human existence.

No more jokes. Stupid Planet was really discovered by Celia Marcyan in her ship "The Shadow Chaser", which circled the planet briefly before flying onwards. Her Garswanese pilot, Chook, had asked her if she wanted to land, and she had answered "No - It's a stupid planet". The name stuck.

The first to actually land on Stupid Planet were Tomo & Walberg, during their madman's quest to cross the galaxy in their ship "The Dreaming Whore".

Haha! No. Actually, there is no reason to believe that Tomo & Walberg ever went anywhere near Stupid Planet. Why would they? Tomo & Walberg are mentioned just to say "Dreaming Whore" - a metaphor for the pointlessness of human existence. I don't actually know who was the first to land on Stupid Planet. Who cares, anyway?

Finally, one day, an astronomer named Ingo Haapala made an amazing discovery, which he announced to his Garswanese colleague, Snook:

INGO: Snook, I have made an amazing discovery. Worlorn is on course to fly past the Hellmouth, that strange multiple-star that some regard as the galactic embodiment of Satan.
SNOOK: What is this "Worlorn"?
INGO: A rogue planet, discovered by Celia Marcyan. She named it "Worlorn". No-one knows why.
SNOOK: "Wor Lorn", in Garswan tongue, means "Stupid Planet".
INGO: Hah! Little did she know, that for 50 years, while it drifts past the Hellmouth, it is going to have SUNLIGHT! A long bright day!
SNOOK: Why care? Is lifeless rock. No-one live on Stupid Planet.
INGO: People could move there.
SNOOK: Bad air on Stupid Planet. Need space suit. Why land? Why leave ship? See Hellmouth better in space.
INGO: We could terraform it - give it an atmosphere - build forests, lakes, seas, and fill them with complex ecologies. We could build giant cities. THAT would give people a reason to land.
SNOOK: No! See trajectory! Too close! Will boil seas, fry cities, burn forests, kill complex ecologies.
INGO: No problem. We can build a giant energy shield that will surround the planet and keep the worst of the sunlight at bay.
SNOOK: Too hard. No-one can make Big Shield.
INGO: The Toberians can. Their energy shielding tech is even more advanced than that of the old Federal Empire.
SNOOK: Silly! Even if Tober help. Project too big. Not enough time. 12 biggest space empires in Fringe could not do it, even if cooperate.
INGO: I bet 14 civilizations could do it.
SNOOK: But ... WHY DO THIS!!!???
INGO: It's a metaphor for the pointlessness of human existence.

And so it was that 14 great civilizations got together, and built a giant monument to stupidity on Stupid Planet. And, when they were finally done, they all had a giant party. The party lasted 10 years. Then they left.

You are Dirk t'Larien. 10 years ago, your lover dumped you without a word of goodbye or explanation. Ever since, you have wallowed in self-pity and resentment, spending all your free time and money on the sterile, semi-human, genetically-altered prostitutes of the planet Prometheus. Meanwhile, Stupid Planet, full of empty cities and dying forests, drifts ever further from the Hellmouth, growing colder, darker, and more desperate for those unfortunate or stupid enough to remain. It's a metaphor.

But then, suddenly, out of the blue, you receive a message from your lost lover. And it says "Come find me ... on Stupid Planet."

Are you stupid enough to go to Stupid Planet?

[FINAL NOTE: Yes, I did read the entire novel, all the way to the end. I have only myself to blame. I was warned. And now, so are you.]
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The premise is great - man on a mission to save his long-lost love on a dying world - but the plot went downhill from there, at least for me, and the ending was completely unsatisfying. There was no real resolution, and what does the hero have left at the end? I didn't like his love interest at all, and she seemed vapor-brained to me - putting herself into a culture where she was essentially a sex slave to both her mate and his bondsman. Ick. George R.R. Martin is a brilliant writer, but this left me cold.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
bri ahearn
Regret can control your life. Dying of the light is a story of a lost love and an empire built in the lovers separation. The main way George R.R. Martin tells his story is through an amazing amount of symbolism. Symbolism exists in every story, but this tale clearly is referring to lost love. This story is incredibly descriptive and I couldn't see it any other way. Through his description of the planet and the shape the planet is in you can immediately connect the story of the lovers to the story of the planet. Another symbolic message is how the planet relates to all of love in general. The following paragraphs will further explain my reasoning.

Although love can be wonderful it is a fleeting feeling. And that is what Martin is trying to say. Worlorn is a symbol of the story of the lovers Dirk and Gwen. Worlorn used to be a bright world where tourists would flock and enjoy themselves. Gwen and Dirk used to be in a bright world that their love ruled their lives much like the story of Worlorn. Despite the seemingly bright future of this land, it eventually turned dark little by little just like the lovers fate. The ancient traditions of the Kavalar became more and more prominent and that led to a new way in the entire world. And with the acceptance of Gwen into the Kavalar ways she lost all tradition of her life before.

Love is a battle field. You can relate war to love in many ways. The great wars of Worlorn are a prime example of Martin's symbolism. Worlorn is a rouge planet that belongs to a planetary system that is only habitable for a short time. Love is the same in many ways. Love can last for a short time even though it may seem to have a promising future. All would agree with me when I say that love is a rogue planet. And the planet being unpopulated is saying that that love is a very rarely populated feeling.

Love and regret come hand in hand and that's what Martin was trying to show. He directly showed this through the lovers and indirectly through the story of the planet. Over all, this book had an excellent amount of symbolism but was lacking in interest for the reader.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
liz gardner
This book should take a day or two to read...but it took me about two months. The main character is so annoying that I wanted him to die and that is the only reason I finished it.

George has come a long way from this don't lose faith in him with this horrible start to his career.
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