Crown of Crystal Flame: I enthusiastically recommend Tairen Soul

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsromantic fantasy book review C.L. Wilson Tairen Soul 5. Crown of Crystal FlameCrown of Crystal Flame by C.L. Wilson

With Crown of Crystal Flame, C.L. Wilson concludes her epic Tairen Soul quintet. The series has always walked the line between romance and epic fantasy. In the later books, however, with the connection between Rain and Ellysetta mostly established (other than that pesky incomplete soul-bond issue), the balance has shifted more toward fantasy as the war with the Eld Mages moves to the forefront.

In this installment, the Fey and their Elven and Celierian allies make their last stand against the Mages. Meanwhile, the insurrection brewing within Vadim Maur’s stronghold comes to a head as well. The good guys are vastly outnumbered and the Mages have terrible powers at their disposal. Yet Rain, Ellie and friends refuse to give up hope, and help from an unexpected quarter may just be enough to turn the tide.

I advise against starting Tairen Soul with Crown of Crystal Flame. The characters and their struggles will be more meaningful to you once you’ve followed them through the first four books, and the plot will make more sense if you’ve read the buildup. But have no fear of an endless series. Crown of Crystal Flame is an actual, honest-to-goodness ending, tying up all the threads Wilson has introduced.

With its focus on the war, it’s the most violent book of the five. Ellie and Rain undergo unimaginable suffering on their way to the climactic scene, and some beloved characters don’t make it. The darkness is not total, however. There are victories along the way, and beautiful moments of romance (both joyous and bittersweet). My favorite scene involves a minor character finally learning how much another character loved them. Reader, I bawled. I also enjoyed the developments regarding the dahl’reisen, and the rediscovered lore about Azrahn and its role in the history of the Fey.

Wilson’s influences bleed through the story in a few places. This is most evident in a scene reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Isengard (particularly Peter Jackson’s interpretation thereof), and in a Fey proverb that sounds a lot like one I remember from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

On the whole, however, Crown of Crystal Flame satisfies, giving readers the conclusion they’ve been waiting for. Now that the series is finished, I can enthusiastically recommend it to fans of romantic fantasy.


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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