There and Never Ever Back Again : A Dark Lord’s Diary
(A Memoir and Manifesto for Villains and Monsters)
by Jeff Mach
What did I expect from a book which sub-heads itself as A Dark Lord’s Diary and A Memoir and Manifesto for Villains and Monsters?
- The book/journal to be written entirely from the point of view of a loquacious but dastardly super villain
- A plot choc full of the thoughts and actions of an extreme machiavellian character, whose evil deeds and plans would provide vicarious thrills while horrifying the more gentle reader
- Evil to triumph over good in the most crushing way
- An interesting, suspense-filled journey towards a climactic battle
There are few temptations sweeter than that of picking up the mantle of noble struggle, while being fairly sure that your opponent will go down.
There’s a little darkness in the purest hearts. And a lot of darkness in the hearts which most loudly claim their purity.
What did I get from There and Never Ever Back Again – A Dark Lord’s Diary?
- Two points of view: the eponymous Dark Lord and the current Chosen One (current – because the White Wizard burns through them like matches). Each keeps a journal interwoven to create the saga’s progress
- An elucidating discourse filled with thought-provoking nuggets of wisdom on the injustice of human attitudes/emotions relating to anything defined as different. Ancient creatures who’ve been maligned, mistreated and banished from the sunlight, unsurprisingly ally themselves with a being who offers the opportunity to reclaim what they have lost
- Philosophy-themed discussions pertaining to standards of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ which call into question the perception of either concept, inviting a re-examination of one’s morality.
- The final /climactic battle towards which the White Wizard is pushing may be strewn with futility (not uncommon in the nature of battles). Races may be preparing to fight to death or extinction over a principle, while victory over the central villain could be perceived as a change of driver, rather than destination.
The Elves fight back valiantly … But at this moment there is no Sun in the sky, and the things of the dark are in their hated – but familiar – element. These are the conditions under which they trained, and they feel at home in the dim light, through which the humans can barely see.
While the Chosen One shows signs of developing an affinity with their sworn enemy, symbiotically I (as reader) questioned the consequences of allowing my own worldview to be defined by others. I fully appreciated the thought-provoking nature of this book.
One intentional untruth is a lie. A thousand intentional untruths become a worldview. Those who are most likely to appoint themselves as gatekeepers of knowledge tend to say that histories are full of lies, which I’d say is correct, as long as you define a lie as “information they can’t control”.
There and Never Ever Back Again is a fantasy book, written with humour and a sardonic wit that kept me so entertained that, once I’d finished, I wanted to start again! For this genre, I tend to watch films more often than read, so it’s a pleasant surprise to have so much to take away from its discourse. Structured around the hero’s journey, the author gives amusing nods to renowned writers (I recognised Tolkien, other reviewers mention Pratchett, Jordan and Gaiman) which adds to the satirical nature of the book. In one final twist, the main characters aren’t restricted by traditional binary moulds. I will definitely read this book again and am already recommending it to friends.
This book review is submitted as part of the month long meme Book Matters where both fiction and non fiction, children’s books and poetry have been suggested and discussed by a variety of knowledgeable contributors. Everyone’s bookshelves and e-readers can benefit from the posts featured when you follow the link.
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[In Red – direct quotes from the book]