Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Don't Read This First: Peter David Tackles Vir Cotto

David, Peter. Armies of Light and Dark. Del Rey, 2000.

Armies of Light and Dark, the second volume in the Centauri trilogy by Peter David, should be read with an awareness of the caveats I raised while discussing The Long Night of Centauri Prime. Primarily, this is the second book in a trilogy based upon the television show Babylon 5, and probably not intended for the non-sci-fi-geek. For those of us who can find alternate worlds a little fascinating and have already enjoyed the television series and the previous novel, this book is better than The Long Night of Centauri Prime, and all the more so because it focuses on one of the greatest characters from the original series.

That lovable and sometimes bumbling Centauri, Vir Cotto, has finally gained a little maturity and is in the process of gaining a lot of spine, and in this exceptional novel, Peter David manages to capture his transformation from a young man into a vibrant and cunning revolutionary. Over the course of this novel, he finds himself in increasing amounts of trouble, falls in love, gives away something beautiful, and manages to make several other alien races quite uneasy. Of course the troubled Londo Mollari plays an important role in the volume as well, but this book is really all about Vir, and for those of us who found the TV show occasionally lacking with respect to the ambassadors' aides, this book takes away some of the sting. As with The Long Night . . ., Armies of Light and Dark has moments of stilted scripts and a too-hastily-unravelled plot, but I found that the book solved more problems than it created, and manages to provide a quite passable character study in the process.

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