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Monday, November 08, 2004

Book review: Twilight of the Gods: Cinátis: BOOK ONE COMPLETE by Ronald L. Donaghe
Review by Duane Simolke

After reading Book One of Twilight of the Gods: Cinátis a while back, I kept looking forward to reading Book Two. Now both books appear in a single volume, as author Ronald L. Donaghe originally intended. Two Brothers Press released the single-volume epic, and also released a single-volume version of The Early Journals of Will Barnett, which includes Donaghe’s novels Uncle Sean, Lance, and All Over Him.

However, Cinátis represents a major departure from Donaghe’s examinations of gay life in rural eras. In fact, he takes us out of this world for a grand, high-fantasy adventure.

Young Jeru leaves his farm in Omoham and hopes to use his connection with the ground to learn about a danger threatening his people. That connection isn’t unusual, because many of Jeru’s people are felders—individuals with deep links to particular elements.

Eríl, a new friend, teaches Jeru more about their world’s history, and about his own growing power. They fall in love, and set out on a quest to learn about the plague that threatens life as they know it. Unfortunately, others want to stop the plague by oppressing anyone who disagrees with certain doctrines, while Jeru himself might become a new threat to the very world he wants to protect.

The ensuing conflicts include epic battles and a great deal of magic, but Donaghe keeps his focus on character development. The love between Eríl and Jeru seems no less real than the love between Joel and Tom in Donaghe’s classic gay novel Common Sons, or between any of the other characters in his other novels. Donaghe brings humanity and deeply felt emotions to his fantasy novel; on that level, maybe Cinátis doesn’t represent such a departure from his other works after all. But the fantasy elements certainly let Donaghe explore his interests and concerns in a new and exciting way.

Donaghe’s Twilight of the Gods series will continue with Gwi’s War and conclude with War Among the Gods.