There are a hundred different kinds of love in this world and he covers them all. The unconditional, instinctual love for a child. The often conditional, but forgiving love for a spouse. The patient love for a beloved parent. The comfortable love for a true friend. And even the respectful love for a close enemy.
His books are not romantic, although they are full of romance. Magic and dashing heroes, human-like gods and god-like humans, wars and death and redemption. It’s all in there. But throughout all of his worlds and characters there is a common theme. That love motivates us all. Even the bad guys love something – money, power, ambition, sometimes themselves. (When you understand the motivation of the enemy, it makes what they do tangible. And terribly frightening.)
I found Dave Duncan while I was in college, and his books sustained me through trying times. I could not find love around me then, not even for myself, but I could lose myself in a story of a stable boy who loved a queen and all would be well. As I grew older, and as I found more of his books to read, I discovered that, unlike so many fantasy writers, the love he wrote about did not end at the altar and a “they lived happily ever after.” He wrote about grown-up love between long wedded couples, something I’d not witnessed in real life. He showed me the casual, physical affection that could exist between two people who’d known, and loved, and fought with each other for decades.
I don’t understand why more people don’t know about Dave Duncan. There is no other author in my collection of books that I re-read as often. There is no other author, (except perhaps Larry McMurty, and then only in Lonesome Dove) that pours as much love into their characters.
I re-read Dave Duncan’s books to meet up with old friends. And although I know how their stories end, I never tire of hearing them.
(see also: One Word Test)