Goodreads: Dark One
Series: Dark One #1
Published: August 17, 2020
Paul Tanasin is a young man haunted by visions of a dark and fantastic world―visions he initially believes are hallucinations. But when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything. Dark One examines the dual roles we often take on in life—the ability to be a savior as well as a destroyer.
There’s some difficulty inherent in reviewing the first volume of a graphic novel because the story isn’t finished, and it feels less like reviewing the first book in a series and more like attempting to review just the first quarter of a single book. However, from what I’ve seen of Dark One so far, it’s an intriguing story about good vs. evil and free will vs. destiny.
The book initially caught my attention because its protagonist is the Dark One, the villain, the powerful being everyone fears; I wanted to see what the world is like through his eyes, how he approaches his destiny. The interesting thing is that “destiny” is part of the struggle. In the world of Mirandus, everyone believes in the Narrative, which plays out every generation: a Dark One Rises, a Destined One ascends to oppose him, war reigns and people die, but ultimately the Light wins. Paul’s (the Dark One’s) problem is whether becoming the Dark One is something to be embraced. Does the Narrative “need” a Dark One? Should he enter the Narrative and give it what it wants? Or should he try something else? (And, frankly, at seventeen years old, he hardly knows what he wants sometimes.)
Personally, I’m lukewarm about stories about Story or Narrative or whatever the author wants to call it. I get that such books are likely inspired by real world questions about, say, the existence of God or a divine will and preordination vs. human free will, but it the premise always seems awkward to stuff into a book. What is the Narrative? Where does it come from? Why can’t people escape it? Should they want to or not? I don’t know that Sanderson’s take on this idea is wholly original or more appealing to me than other ones I’ve seen–but, again, the real problem is that this is only Volume One, so I actually have no idea how the whole thing plays out. Sanderson usually can surprise me with thoughtful questions and clever plot twists, so I’m hoping for one down the line here.
Although I would say “character motivations” and how they approach the Narrative is one of the focuses of the book, I do wish I’d gotten a more in-depth read on Paul and exactly who he is. The book does try to give readers insight and some background, and I do think that the graphic novel form might be a bit of a barrier here, but I didn’t understand some of Paul’s choices as clearly as I’d wished. Hopefully this is something that is also expanded upon in future installments.
I did enjoy Dark One, and I’d like to read more, but I also feel as if I’m floundering a bit here and haven’t quite gotten enough of the story to latch onto in order to understand it. If you’re interested in this story, perhaps wait until Volume Two is released to start reading!