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The Scar Reviewd By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
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Dr. Wesley Britton

Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE

 
By Dr. Wesley Britton
Published on March 20, 2012
 

Authors: Sergey Dyachenko & Marina Dyachenko

Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition (February 28, 2012)

ISBN-10: 076532993X

ISBN-13: 978-0765329936

 


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Authors: Sergey Dyachenko & Marina Dyachenko

Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition (February 28, 2012)

ISBN-10: 076532993X

ISBN-13: 978-0765329936

While Sergey and Marina Dyachenko have published 25 novels in their native Russia, The Scar is the first English translation of a book by this highly regarded husband and wife team. First published in 1997, newly translated by Elinor Huntington, the only regret any reader might have after completing The Scar is that the sequels are not yet ready for those of us limited to the English tongue.

The story focuses on one Lieutenant Egert Soil, a priviledged, arrogant swordsman accustomed to getting what he wants. He’s a more than able soldier, gifted with throwing knives, fencing, bedding lusty women, and bullying his fellows. Then, a young student comes to town accompanied by his fiancée whom Egert takes a fancy to. She rebuffs him, but unwilling to take no for an answer, Egert harasses the couple to the point where the innocent student has a short duel with Egert who cuts him down in the streets. A man only known as “The Wanderer” witnesses Egert’s brutality, challenges him to a duel, and bests him leaving a scar on Egert’s cheek. Egert soon learns that scar carries with it a curse of total cowardice he cannot conquer.   

From that point forward, Egert goes on a quest to understand his curse and what he must do to redeem himself. He finds himself in a different city where he is housed at a university headed by a Mage who is the father of the girl Egert had wanted. In addition, the city has a tower where a mysterious cult of devotees of “Lash” want Egert to spy on the Mage for them. He’s haunted by a trio of his ex-comrades who want to arrest him for desertion, the baleful looks from the girl he wronged, and his desire to find “The Wanderer.” In the process, Egert undergoes a journey of self-exploration that culminates in his one chance to reclaim his courage.

While loosely associated with the “sword and sorcery” genre, The Scar only marginally fits the conventions readers might expect from such novels. The magic is minimal, the swordcraft limited to very believable duels and tavern fights. The focus is on the principal characters. The looming perils are largely unexplained with hints of storylines to be fleshed out in sequels. The Scar is part a richly detailed parable, part a type of historical fiction set in, apparently, an alternate universe, and part a cornerstone for a series in which the mysteries introduced in The Scar can go, well, wherever the Dyachenkos imagine.

The Scar may not be the great Russian novel some of its publicity suggests, but it’s well worth the attention of any reader who likes well-drawn characters, vivid and unusual settings, a touch or two or three of mysticism, and continuing surprises up until the last page. For me, the follow-ups can’t be translated fast enough. I can think of English classes where The Scar would make for a readable text for enjoyable analysis and explication.


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