I have been struggling for some time to draw a conclusion about this epic, imbued with eastern history and lavish depictions of a way of life before civilisation, before empires were made and lost.
It would do well on a cinematic scale; that much is true - certainly if the author's apparent penchant for an almost pornographic account of two unlikely characters such as the slave-girl, Trella, and the clouded barbarian, Eskkar, being thrown together is kept in by the director. Far too much zest and obsession with getting a leg over (as they say) for my liking and not exactly the most discreet of terminology utilised at that - but one could argue that this is just a matter of personal taste.
The plot is gripping, if nothing new. It is not unusual for women to be underestimated and it is refreshing that the author applies just as much vigour into recounting Trella's impressive mind and talent in the art of politics as to the sexual antics between the slave-girl and Eskkar.
Eskkar, as Orak's unassuming messiah, is perhaps a little underwritten and his character suffers from the distinctly implausible ability to immediately grasp complex politics and skills without any real training or formal teaching. I'm all for the unsung hero coming out of top, but the sudden about change from zero to hero is a little hard to swallow.
The action is impeccable with battle scenes worthy of Hollywood and I can already imagine the jaw-dropping effect and devastation of such scenes on the big screen.
I'm a critic and a fan on this one, which is a peculiar contradiction and an unusual position for me to take, but I'm staying on middle ground. It's a take it or leave it novel - which is not meant as a criticism, but as an explanation should this fail to win over the multitude. I would not, however, be surprised to see an edited version coming soon to a theatre near you...
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012