Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Book Review: The Haven

Book Review: 'The Haven' by Graham Diamond

4 / 5 Stars

'The Haven' (347 pp) was published by Playboy Press in 1977; artist Wayne McLoughlin provided the striking cover illustration.

UK author Diamond wrote several sequels to 'The Haven': 'Lady of the Haven' (1978), 'Dungeons of Kuba' (1979), 'The Falcon of Eden' (1980) and 'The Beasts of Hades' (1981).

I had been interested in getting a copy of the original mass-market edition of 'The Haven' for some time, but the fact that it has long been out of print has meant that copies even in poor condition have steep asking prices. I was fortunate to find an affordable copy from an online seller.

(A print-on-demand trade paperback of the book is now being offered at amazon).

'The Haven' turned out to be a pretty good read. It's an interesting mix of a horror novel and a fantasy novel.

The novel is set in a medieval landscape where all animals are capable of speech. Fourteen thousand souls, all that remains of Mankind, live in the cultivated grounds of the Valley. Surrounding the Valley is a vast and seemingly impenetrable forest, and within the forest lurk the Dogs: the implacable enemies of Mankind.

For two thousand years Man and Dog have fought: swords and arrows against claw and fang. Now Man makes his last stand in the Valley...... and shelters within its formidable redoubt: a massive castle called the Haven.

As 'The Haven' opens, Elon, the Lord of the Haven, is made aware of a disturbing new development: the Dogs have united under a charismatic and cunning leader known only as The Master. With rumors of thousands of dogs uniting to form a giant Pack for the sole purpose of eliminating Man from the world, Elon seeks allies among the Birds and the Wolves, and plans for what will likely be the final battle for survival against the Dogs.

Nigel, a young Lord and one of the more intelligent men in the Valley, argues for avoiding a pitched battle with the army of the Dogs. Nigel proposes an alternative: he will lead a scout team to find a path through the Forest and into the fabled New Lands, where the population of the Valley can find shelter and safety from the Dogs.

As the army of the Dogs closes on the Valley, Nigel and his small band of scouts set off into the depths of the Forest on their desperate mission...............

For the most part, 'The Haven' succeeds in melding horror and fantasy, in large part due to the author's willingness to include graphic scenes of violence and mayhem that prevent the narrative from having the predictable quality of many fantasy novels (where, despite all manner of tribulations, the Quest Party survives more or less intact and defeats the Evil Lord, leaving all to live Happily Ever After).

Author Diamond keeps his narrative focused on action, keeps his subplots to a manageable number, and avoids implementing a contrived 'Peace for All' cop-out...........make no mistake, there will be only one winner in the war between Man and Dog.

The verdict ? If you can get a copy of 'The Haven' for an affordable price, I recommend doing so. It has an offbeat quality that brings something novel to the Horror genre.

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