Friedman, C.S. 1957- (Celia S. Friedman)

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Friedman, C.S. 1957- (Celia S. Friedman)


Born January 12, 1957; daughter of Herbert (a radio engineer and writer) and Nancy Friedman. Education: Attended Brandeis University; Adelphi University (graduated); University of Georgia, M.F.A. Hobbies and other interests: Choreographing fencing, renaissance festivals.


E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, novelist, costume designer, and educator. Worked as an assistant professor of costuming, Geneseo, NY; taught at Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA; worked as a costume designer for university and professional theater productions; creative writing instructor; designer of period dress patterns.



In Conquest Born, DAW (New York, NY), 1986, fifteenth anniversary edition, 2001.

The Madness Season, DAW (New York, NY), 1990.

This Alien Shore, DAW (New York, NY), 1998.

The Wilding, DAW (New York, NY), 2004.

Feast of Souls (book one of the "Magester" trilogy), DAW (New York, NY), 2007.


Black Sun Rising, DAW (New York, NY), 1991.

When True Night Falls, DAW (New York, NY), 1993.

Crown of Shadows, DAW (New York, NY), 1995.


Intrapersonal characterization is an element that critics have recognized in C.S. Friedman's science fiction/fantasy novels. Diane C. Donovan, writing in Kliatt, praised the "sexual and social complexities" and "realistic concerns and viewpoints" portrayed in Friedman's debut, In Conquest Born. In Voice of Youth Advocates, Carolyn Caywood referred to The Madness Season as having "a complex plot with fascinating speculations about the nature of identity and individuality woven into the characterization." Of This Alien Shore, one of Friedman's more recent works, New York Times Book Review contributor Gerald Jonas noted the protagonist's "slow and painful process of self-discovery tethers the far-ranging plot to a recognizably human predicament…. Friedman has created a potent metaphor for the toleration of diversity."

The Madness Season is set in the twenty-fourth century on Earth and tells of "a journey of self-discovery," described Penny Kaganoff in Publishers Weekly. An immortal being covertly, under a variety of aliases, teaches the slaves of Earth what the free Earth was like before it was ruled by the Tyr. When the immortal's activities and abilities are discovered, the Tyr destroys the immortal's food supply (nutrient tablets) and banishes him from Earth. The immortal, a vampire now in search of creative alternatives to his primitive food source, forms a symbiotic relationship with another immortal, an energy entity without a long-term memory but with the ability to materialize and change shape at will. The two beings collectively work against the Tyr.

Friedman addresses "the relationship of memory and identity" and connects the two with "individuality," with "life cycle," and the power to change, analyzed Tom Easton in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Easton concluded: "Clearly, Friedman is up to something very interesting, even clever, and doing it pretty well. Unfortunately, I found myself wishing more than once that the tale would move a little faster. Friedman is not a lively writer. Worse yet, the whole tale collapses well before the end [when one of the protagonists breaks character and] … shatters the logic of the story and the reader's willing suspension of disbelief." Despite his reservations, Easton recommended The Madness Season. Kaganoff was more impressed with the work, judging The Madness Season to be an "exceptionally imaginative, compelling science fiction novel."

As in The Madness Season, Friedman includes immortal entities and the existence of an energy that can create/transform matter as central elements in her well-received "Coldfire" series. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Friedman's trilogy as "one of the better fantasy series in recent memory." When presenting a world called Erna in Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, and Crown of Shadows, Friedman, who is "a gifted storyteller and an innovative creator" according to a Library Journal reviewer of the series' second volume, combines characteristics of fantasy writing and qualities within the science fiction genre. Black Sun Rising, "a splendid hybrid of [science fiction] and fantasy" initiates the "Coldfire" series with "[h]auntingly memorable protagonists, high drama, and vivid world-building," assessed Jackie Cassada in Library Journal. A vampire/sorcerer named Garald Tarrant and a priest named Damien Vryce are among the characters that readers follow through the trilogy as they traverse Erna and deal with a curious energy form known as fae. As Rebecca Barnhouse related in a Voice of Youth Advocates assessment of When True Night Falls, the second volume of the "Coldfire" trilogy, Erna is a place where numerous creatures live, including "demons, many spawned by a person's own thoughts and fears." When the series opens, humans have already been living on Erna for a dozen centuries, and on Erma, a force, an energy phenomenon called "fae," envelopes and influences life.

With Black Sun Rising, Friedman produces a "brooding and engrossing philosophical quest novel" which focuses on the "human desire for knowledge and the dangerous covenants necessary to attain it," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Relating Friedman's performance in the trilogy's debut novel with her work in two earlier science fiction/fantasy novels, Booklist contributor Roland Green remarked that Friedman's "increasingly vivid imagination" greatly overshadows the author's "tendency to overwrite." In When True Night Falls, Friedman's second volume in the series, "the tension is taut, and Damien's inner conflicts are well drawn," commented Barnhouse. A Kirkus Reviews critic called When True Night Falls "competently wrought, independently intelligible, [and] reasonably engaging." The struggles between Garald and Damien continue, reaching a "supernatural clash" in the series' finale, Crown of Shadows, reported a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who called the last volume "ponderous, preachy, and disappointing." Although the novel "isn't entirely satisfying," stated a Publishers Weekly contributor, "readers will be enthralled" with Crown of Shadows. Kim Carter and Art Steele responded to Crown of Shadows in Voice of Youth Advocates: "Crown of Shadows is a true mirror of life, with all of life's simplicities, moral lessons, and ambiguities…. Through taut, intense prose filled with enthralling, nonstop action, Friedman weaves a multidimensional cast of characters."

Feast of Souls is the first novel in the "Magester" trilogy, which a Kirkus Reviews contributor called "an elaborate vampire variant." In the world of the Magesters, the price of using magic is high, each use requiring the expenditure of a fraction of the magician's finite life force. The nearly immortal male Magesters, however, have devised the means whereby their own life force is not spent. Rather, the life force of an often unwitting consort is used to propel Magester magic, a secret closely guarded by the powerful cabal. When peasant girl Kamala, who possesses powerful magical abilities, demands that Magister Ethanus train her, she eventually becomes the first female Magester. Elsewhere, Prince Andovan, the son of King Danton Aurelius, has contracted a mysterious wasting disease. The assembled Magesters know full well the cause of the prince's ailment— a rogue Magester has ensnared him to use as a magical consort—but they refuse to inform the king and thus protect their most closely guarded secret. As the story progresses, King Danton falls under the control of a force even more malignant than a rogue Magester, Kamala learns to control her powers and has a lethal encounter with a lecherous Magester, war with the demons threatens, and the intertwined fates of Kamala and Andovan spiral ever more tightly together.

A Kirkus Reviews critic named the novel "well-fashioned and often absorbing, if hampered by a dearth of sympathetic characters," and concluded it is a "good start to the trilogy." Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada commented favorably on Friedman's "storytelling acumen and her ability to create unforgettably complex characters," while a Publishers Weekly writer declared the novel to be an "imaginative, deftly plotted fantasy." Frieda Murray, writing in Booklist, concluded: "Powerful, intricate plotting and gripping characters distinguish a book in which ethical dilemmas are essential and engrossing."



Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975-1991, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.


Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July, 1991, Tom Easton, review of The Madness Season, pp. 305-309.

Booklist, October 1, 1990, review of The Madness Season, p. 259; September 1, 1991, Roland Green, review of Black Sun Rising, p. 34; October 1, 1993, review of When True Night Falls, pp. 258, 262; September 15, 1995, review of Crown of Shadows, p. 144; January 1, 2007, Frieda Murray, review of Feast of Souls, p. 69.

Chronicle, September 1, 2004, Don D'Ammassa, review of The Wilding, p. 32.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1993, review of When True Night Falls, p. 1036; August 1, 1995, review of Crown of Shadows, p. 1068; October 15, 2006, review of Feast of Souls, p. 1050.

Kliatt, September, 1987, Diane C. Donovan, review of In Conquest Born, p. 26; April, 1991, review of The Madness Season, p. 18; January, 1993, review of Black Sun Rising, p. 16; November, 1994, review of When True Night Falls, p. 20; January, 1997, review of Crown of Shadows, p. 12.

Library Journal, November 15, 1991, Jackie Cassada, review of Black Sun Rising, p. 110; September 15, 1993, review of When True Night Falls, p. 109; August, 1995, review of Crown of Shadows, p. 122; December 1, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Feast of Souls, p. 114.

Locus, July, 1990, review of The Madness Season, p. 53; December, 1991, review of Black Sun Rising, p. 52; November, 1993, review of When True Night Falls, p. 48.

New York Times Book Review, November 15, 1998, Gerald Jonas, review of This Alien Shore, p. 64.

Publishers Weekly, April 17, 1987, John Mutter, review of In Conquest Born, p. 71; September 14, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of The Madness Season, p. 121; October 4, 1991, review of Black Sun Rising, p. 82; September 4, 1995, review of Crown of Shadows, p. 54; October 12, 1998, review of This Alien Shore, p. 63; October 23, 2006, review of Feast of Souls, p. 35.

San Francisco Chronicle, December, 1990, review of The Madness Season, p. 32; December, 1991, review of Black Sun Rising, p. 33; October, 1993, review of When True Night Falls, p. 39.

School Library Journal, February, 1991, review of The Madness Season, p. 108.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1991, Carolyn Caywood, review of The Madness Season, p. 42; June, 1992, review of In Conquest Born, p. 144; October, 1994, Rebecca Barnhouse, review of When True Night Falls, p. 222; February, 1996, Kim Carter and Art Steele, review of Crown of Shadows, p. 382; April, 1996, review of Crown of Shadows, p. 18.


C.S. Friedman Home Page, (August 5, 2007).

Merentha, (August 5, 2007), biography of C.S. Friedman.

SFRevu, (January 2, 2007), Karen Burnham, review of Feast of Souls.

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Friedman, C.S. 1957- (Celia S. Friedman)

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