Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Light Field The Light Field:
Triad of Being - Book 3
by Traci Harding

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: John Toon

The Light-Field is the third volume in Traci Harding's "Triad of Being" series, and one of the most god-awful insipid books I can remember reading.

Taren Lennox, the heroine, is impossibly perfect and has paranormal powers that include (but may not be limited to) the abilities to instantly transport herself anywhere she can think of, to make herself invisible, to magically dress herself and do her housework, and to turn time back. As at the start of the book, she's already done the latter (at least) once, projecting herself and a superpowered friend back ten years so that they can get involved in the same interplanetary exploration mission and recruit the same allies to help them fight necromantic villain Khalid Mansur, only this time on their terms. She also has a cache of magic stones that allow her to win these allies over unconditionally to her side (or at least, that's how it comes across), that bring out her friends' psychic abilities and that give complete and impenetrable protection against anything that bad old Khalid might try.

Using their foreknowledge of events and their ill-defined, apparently boundless magical psi-powers, Taren and her team of superperfect superfriends are able to overcome all obstacles and thwart Khalid by doing little more than willing it so. No hardship has to be borne for much more than half a page; no sooner can Khalid put some evil scheme into motion than he's foiled by the immediate intervention of the omnipotent Taren and her retinue.

There's already less dramatic tension here than in an episode of Scooby-Doo, and any remaining interest is crushed by the implicit possibility that Taren could, if she chose, just keep undoing time and trying again until everything goes her way. There's no sense that what the heroes experience and do in this book actually means anything, except inasmuch as it appeases their mystic guardian deities. It's just 530 pages of ponies and rainbows (metaphorically speaking). It's wearing, and as far as I can see, Harding's only reason for killing the plot in this way is so that she can instead spend the bulk of the book pairing up her heroes with their perfect superhuman soul partners.

Even so, I might not mind the ordeal so much if the writing itself were any good. This is Harding's fifteenth novel, yet it feels like a first effort. The characters are all cyphers because the story doesn't require any more of them. What's more, they all talk in the exact same way – good and evil, old and young, male and female, they all sound like preppy young socialites. And world-building is all but non-existent in this book – it's set on a handful of potentially exotic alien worlds in what turns out to be Earth's future, but in truth it feels neither exotic nor futuristic. What it feels like is an episode of Laguna Beach, but with stronger normative tendencies.

To describe this novel as undemanding would be a gross understatement. The print is large, and in minute-by-minute terms this was a fast read – only tedium dragged out the experience.

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