Adrian Cole – The Long Reach Of Night

The Long Reach Of Night (2011) by Adrian Cole is the second volume of the Voidal Trilogy. It has the rather unique format of consisting of a series of connected short stories. While the first volume Oblivion Hand seemed to have more random episodes The Long Reach Of Night starts to form a genuine plot development. In a way this is a good thing as each book is less than 200 pages long and to reach a conclusion of this epic dark fantasy tale there has to be some serious progress. Cole wrote the short stories about the Voidal, a cursed being who had little control over his actions, 25 to 35 years ago and never completed them. After a first collection of stories published in Oblivion Hand he decided to complete the tale. There were a number of other short stories left so it isn’t a surprise that while he sticks to the original format the new ‘stories’ have a greater focus because Cole just wants to write what is necessary to complete the tale.

The remarkable short length of the books and the short story format keep the pace and action fairly high. Because of the episodic nature he only needs to use those which are required. The stories thrive on the weirdness of the settings which are reminiscent of Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories and other Multiverse novels. The prose is also stylized but quite more readable than Moorcock’s and the stories have a stronger focus. Cole keeps his mysteries well locked, only slowly giving small bits of information. Of course the Elric novels lacked a base of mysteries for the stories as they were aimed more at weird adventures than otherwise. Although the Voidal stories contain little characterization, there is some, and there are always the questions about the weirdness of the whole chaotic universe in which the stories take place. One could call that a different kind of characterization. Is there a greater scheme or is this just how it is?

Because of the episodic format the story in itself is pretty straightforward as the setting keeps changing with different characters being introduced. This does keep the reader fresh as each setting provides new weirdness to explore and wonder about. It is a cesspool of imagination. I name it that because the settings are often dark and creepy, although Cole stays way from making it depressing or horrific.

When I read my first Voidal stories over a decade ago I knew this was great stuff, although not of a groundbreaking level. Just good fantasy. I was confirmed on this opinion when I obtained the first volume a couple of years ago. Personally I think it is impressive that Cole managed to find the exact same tone and style for writing the new stories as it has been over 25 years ago since he did last. Of course he kept writing and as I don’t know the original versions of the republished stories he could have rewritten them to obtain overall coherence. Anyways. This is some great stuff which deserves to be promoted more. It may lack complexity or details like most fantasy these days aim for, but it is refreshingly original and provides an old-style feeling from when fantasy was still far off the mainstream reader. Highly recommended.

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