Whew. What a slog this was; as was the first book, Crown of Vengeance, (click here for review), which was published FIVE years ago. So of course, remembering what happened before is a little difficult.
This series remains extremely frustrating---there are STILL no maps of the lands under discussion here. I have no idea where places are in relationship to others, making this very hard to picture except in a general way. And it’s critical because there are events taking place in different areas simultaneously.
All the elven characters in the book have names like: Girelrian Ciranderion or Hamphuliadiel or Runacarendalur or Annobeunna Keindostibaent…and this is in the first 40 pages. I glossed over them after a whilewhich I would assume kind of defeats their purpose…(Yesthis does remind me of the Silmarillion…)
There is NO glossary so the words made up for creatures, divisions, ethnic variations, etc. are not explained. And again, I glossed over them… So, through most of the first hundred or more pages you spend your time trying to figure out what and who is doing what to others. The frequent made-up lengthy words are a complete stumbling block to the forward movement of the plot.
Basically, elves in this place are always fighting among themselves…there are a Hundred Houses. They have magic and pointed ears and wonderful armor and castles, etc. The Othersthe creatures of the landsthe minotaurs, centaurs, bearwards, woodwoses and the denizens of the sea are all looked upon as monsters to be destroyed. They are certainly not seen as people with their own lives and cultures. But, just so you knowthere is an even bigger threat to this world than the constantly fighting elves---it is an all-encompassing Darkness and it has decided it is time to sweep the world clean of well, everything living.
Meanwhile, the elves are dealing with the rise of a legendary Child of Prophecy, a new High Kingsomething which hasn’t been around for Agesand her name is Vieliessar. Yes, this legendary High King is a female elf. And she wants all elves to recognize the rest of the sentient life around them as people and not servants and lowborn or monsters. As can be imagined, this goes over real well with the elves --so there is a freaking monstrous battle to establish her position.
The High King’s Soul Mate, a War PrinceRunacarendalurthankfully known as Runacar---has left the elven fold and gone against his heritage because he realizes that the Minotaurs, Cenaturs, Gryphons, etc. are worth fighting for, and they need a well-trained leader to stop the elves from decimating them. Of course, all will need to come together to fight that lurking Darkness, which is just waiting for the auspicious moment to descend on them all. This will be for book three.
Lots of fighting, magicthe whole landscape is changed to defeat the elves. Amazingly, Runacar and his band of magical beings kick elvish butt, despite their foes being well-armed and organized. And in the end…little is left of the Hundred Houses, save the High King and her army---which remained incommunicado beyond the Mystrals Mountains. After establishing herself at the beginning of the novel, she is not heard of from again. And no one knows why, including the reader.
As I said, this was a slog…Like walking through shifting fog. Sometimes, things are clear and other times, obscured and only the faint outlines can be seen. The writing is formal and lush…but the plot, hampered by the weighty made-up terms and eight-syllable words, is lost.
I’ll admit the story gets better at the end, when there is another horrendous, huge battle…but by that time I just wanted the whole thing to be over. And guess what---there are STILL no dragons. ~~ Sue Martin