Lady of Light and Shadows: Had me misting up

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsromantic fantasy book review C.L. Wilson Lord of the Fading Lands 2. Lady of Light and ShadowsLady of Light and Shadows by C.L. Wilson

Lady of Light and Shadows is the second volume in C.L. Wilson’s romantic fantasy epic, Tairen Soul. Like the previous novel, Lord of the Fading Lands, Lady of Light and Shadows is a fun guilty pleasure. Ellysetta and Rain may be a little over the top in terms of their powers, treading close to Mary Sue territory, but I’m enjoying the heck out of their story anyway. The Tairen Soul series is a delightfully escapist saga, reminding me a little bit of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels, but without all the sexual violence. All of the elements that made Black Jewels fun are here: a Cinderella heroine who rises from obscurity to (maybe) save the world, a hero with a dark past and a heart of gold, a beautiful love story, compelling secondary characters, and a touch of humor.

Like its predecessor, Lady of Light and Shadows gets off to a bit of a slow start. There’s a lot of talk, as characters discuss and debate politics. At issue is the proposed treaty with Eld. Most of Celieria’s nobility favors this agreement. Rain believes it’s a dangerous step, but every time he starts to make headway in persuading the lords to vote against the treaty, events happen that raise suspicions against Rain and the Fey. Meanwhile, Rain spends his free time courting Ellie and teaching her to control her magic, Ellie has another run-in with the catty girl who tormented her when they were teens, and Ellie’s mother is pushed toward drastic steps that she thinks will save Ellie’s soul. All of this is interesting, but it doesn’t move very quickly, and I started to wonder whether the characters would ever manage to get out of Celieria by the end of this book, or even by the end of the third.

But when this plot goes BOOM, it does it in a big way. The second half of Lady of Light and Shadows is just terrific. First, we meet the infamous renegade Fey, Gaelen vel Serranis. I love Gaelen. I like him better than I like Rain, to be honest, and I hope he gets still more screen time in the next two Tairen Soul novels, and a great character arc. We learn more about Ellie’s background, and some of the revelations test the relationship between her and Rain. And the Mage conspiracy comes to a head in a treacherous attack and a suspenseful battle scene.

The self-sacrifice of one particular character, and the scene between Rain and Ellie at book’s end, had me misting up. I was quite impressed with these later chapters, and am looking forward to King of Sword and Sky and Queen of Song and Souls, in which our heroes will continue to fight the Mage threat and attempt to halt the decline of the tairen (powerful creatures who are something like a blend of dragons and big cats) and the Fey.


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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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