Aug 13, 2008
The Madness Seadon by C. S. Friedman
A Review of The Madness Season by C. S. Friedman (Daw, 1990)
I first heard about C. S. Friedman while doing research for Vampire Readings. Several people mentioned The Madness Season as an excellent vampire story. What I didn’t realize until I began reading it was how well it incorporated two of my favorite themes - science fiction and vampire fiction. This is an imaginative, beautifully written novel that captured my attention from the very first page.
Much of the known Galaxy has been conquered by an alien race called the Tyr. Their large reptilian bodies are covered with tough armored plaiting and lethel spikes. When Earth was vanquished they dispassionately murdered any human who had fought them and exiled to distant planets any who were likely to defy them. Only those willing to submit to their rule remained. One such person is Daetrin, a rather nondescript, middle-aged science teacher at one of the few colleges left. He is no one special or so he would like everyone, especially the Tyr, to believe. But the Tyr have discovered there is something not quite human about Daetrin. Although he has carefully changed his identity over time, they soon realize that he has lived for many centuries. No mortal should be able to do this.
All of his life, even before the coming of the Tyr, Daetrin has had to hide his difference - the need for blood ( a need he could eventually discard by using science to create a substitute), ageless immortality, aversion to sunlight, and ability to shapeshift. When told by the Kuol-Tyr. governor of Earth, that he would be taken from his planet never to return, Daetrin assumes he has been given a death sentence. Instead this journey becomes a chance for him to acknowledge his true nature and use his special abilities to fight the tyranny of the Tyr. Although Daetrin is the main character there are many others, all fully realized and believable like a particular Raayat-Tyr whose search for knowledge sets him apart from those of his race. In Daetrin he finds someone who can help him. Daetrin determines this can works both ways.
I've read The Madness Season twice, most recently last year (2007). I enjoyed it just as much the second time.
Friedman's author notes can be found here, but be careful there are minor spoilers!