The Dark Lord of Geeragh
Veronica Sweeney

Cover The title character of the book is both the hero and villain, but not the main character. The main character is Fen, a twelve year old boy. The book is written in first person from his perspective.

Geeragh is the place and Bress is the Dark Lord thereof. The country has been at war with all its neighboring states for a hundred and ten years when the book starts. It is in ruins. This is why the populace call Bress the Dark Lord. He has been responsible for driving the country into it's current sorry state. Bress is not a mere man like most of the people in the story. he is from the 'Race of Heroes' and over 300 years old.

Fen enters the story collecting kelp on the beach with his mother. It is there the knights of Bress find him. He has been singled out to become the Dark Lord's new page, owing to the unfortunate death of the last one.

Before Fen and his mother part she makes him promise her he will kill the Dark Lord. Fen's mother blames Bress for the death of her husband. He was killed in a sea battle before Fen was born.

And so the scene is set. What happens from here is really a matter for the book to say. However, the war is not what it seems and neither is the Dark Lord.

The book is a little disappointing though. In the author's biography in the front the publishers claim, "Dark Lord of Geeragh sees Veronica entering the adult fantasy market." Sadly this claim is not substantiated by the book.

I was wary as soon as I read the main character was a twelve year old boy. The age of the principle character is often a fair guide as to the target audience of the book. If the main character is a kid the book is frequently for kids. This is not always the case and the style of narrative language used in the opening chapter lead me to believe it was meant for adult reading.

The quality of the writing rapidly degenerates though. By about the third chapter the writing is at a level that could be easily understood by the average early teenager. This is only a general guide for the bulk of the book, as interspersed through it are terms which require a much wider vocabulary then the average early teenager would have. This makes the book difficult to categorize.

It doesn't fit in either the young adult or the adult category. There are aspects which will appeal to either, but equally there are aspects which will appeal to neither. Some sections are beyond the reach of a lot of young adult readers and as such they will find it annoying to read. Conversely there are some parts which are downright childish and will annoy a lot of adult readers.

One of the most annoying aspects of the book was the use of the magical creatures called Shee. They only purpose they seem to serve is as a cheap device to drive the plot. Given the limitations of using Fen's first person perspective the Shee are used to tell the reader what is going on in the guise of explaining it to Fen. And towards the end of the book they are used as a magical get out of jail free card. The characters are trapped in a situation that they can't possible get themselves out of and up pops the Shee to save them. This is the only direct action it performs in the book.

It's clear fantasy is not a genre with which the author has had great deal of exposure. The book suffers from a number of cliché fantasy elements. It is saved somewhat by the Bress not being completely clichéed even with the majority of the other characters being that way.

And the less said about one scene at the end the better. So nauseatingly trite I nearly gagged.

It may seem like the book has no redeeming features, but it is enjoyably easy to read. It is a short book for a modern fantasy, little more than 70,000 words, which means it can be read in a couple of hours. It doesn't tax the mind trying to keep abreast of the plot. It is effective light entertainment. The sort of thing to read with your brain in neutral.