I’m going to be honest — when I first began reading Daughter of Man, I was not expecting to like it. I think it was mainly because, from the very beginning, it was obvious that the book, the whole book, was going to be told via a recitation from the point of view of an old man to a young scholar as he recounted his earlier years in the war. This is a convention of storytelling that is often used in fiction, and I did not think it very original or new. The thought of reading everything through dialogue and the frequent interruptions from past to present frustrated me.
But I found myself very pleasantly surprised.
Only a few pages in, I was sucked into the story. Jacob’s writing takes on an old-age feel, a little flowery, a little haughty, with a little something extra that can really only be described as Jacob. The narrator’s voice is other-worldly in a way, making the setting all the more real. We are drawn out and away from Earth and deposited into this unknown world in this other time, and even though that place and time are not definite or described, it doesn’t matter. The point isn’t the where or the when, it is, I think, the who.
The narrative is told through an aged Captain Joshua Foley, who, in his prime, was a soldier in an army waging war against the Rollog, a breed of pig-like vicious creatures who wreak havoc against the humans. To make matters worse, the Rollog are advancing quickly and every battle they get smarter. They learn how to not only wield weapons, but how to craft them, and their battle tactics and strategy evolve to make them fearsome enemies. But the humans have one advantage that the Rollog don’t have: Diamanda, the Berserker.
Diamanda is a fierce and alien woman stronger than any man, and she is the only hope for the humans. This story, even though it is told from Captain Foley’s perspective, is not really about him at all. In reality, it’s about Diamanda. She is the spotlight of the narrative.
What truly captured me about this story was the brutal rawness of it. The setting, the situation, the characters are not romanticized in any way. It is not a beautiful story. The war scenes are bloody and violent. There are no beautiful love scenes between Captain Foley and Diamanda. We know that he loved her, but it is in the midst of fear and war and death, and that stark horror is acutely present in every scene. And she is not portrayed as beautiful or feminine. There is no description of how stunningly beautiful she is, nor how vulnerable, nor how soft. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Diamanda is described as being a fierce warrior, if more than a little monstrous and mad. Men do not adore her or pine after her – they fear her. She and Captain Foley are ostracized from the rest of the encampment, but Captain Foley is loyal to her until the end. She is not written to fit the standard female role, because she is not the standard female, and it is what I loved most about her character and about this book in general.
The only critique I could give of this book would be of the last chapter, which acts more as an epilogue and could have been foregone as it doesn’t lend much to the story, and the physical appearance of the book. While I try not to judge a book by its cover (and back cover, and inside design), I felt there was a little left to be desired to match the quality of its contents.
Daughter of Man, at only 180 large type pages, was a quick and slick read. The relationship that is painted between Captain Foley and Diamanda is unique and quirky and grotesquely beautiful. If you are looking for a conventional love story – don’t look here, you won’t find it. What you will find is intriguing writing, raw characters, and an unconventional, fast-paced plot. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop, as I had to know the truth about Diamanda, the same as everyone else.
Daughter of Man retails at a reasonable price of $10.99 for physical soft copy, and on Kindle ebook for $3.03. You can purchase or find out more about Daughter of Man through Amazon here:
Or, alternatively, it can be purchased for NOOK for $3.99, and from Barnes and Noble here: