Queen of Song and Souls, the much-anticipated fourth book in C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series, continues the story of Rain and Ellysetta’s quest to complete their bond and defeat the sinister Mages of Eld. In this volume, they attempt to enlist allies in their war against Eld.
First, this means a return to Celieria City. We learn more about the consequences of the weave Ellie inadvertently spun at the end of Lord of the Fading Lands; something shocking has happened to everyone involved. We get to see King Dorian and Queen Annoura again as the rift in their relationship grows, and as the Mages do their best to take advantage of it. Wilson also further explores the poignant star-crossed love of Talisa and Adrial, a plotline that began in Lady of Light and Shadows.
Later, our heroes travel to Elvia to meet with the Elves. These Elves are a tribute to Tolkien’s creation (then again, whose aren’t?), dwelling in a beautifully-described city built of living trees and dispensing cryptic wisdom. Ellie, in particular, is strongly affected by her stay here. She learns a little about the possible futures that could unfold, and finally discovers who her biological parents are, but finds just as many new questions as she finds answers.
We also see more of Ellie’s sister Lillis, who has a mysterious experience in the Faering Mists, and Melliandra, who continues her one-girl insurrection against the High Mage. (I love that kid…)
Wilson has stated on her web site that Queen of Song and Souls was originally intended as the final Tairen Soul book, but that the story grew too big and was split. A fifth book, titled Tairen Soul, is scheduled to follow this one and complete the series. Queen of Song and Souls suffers a little bit from the change in plans. It’s well-written and often moving, but there’s a feeling of “set-up” to it. In the earlier Tairen Soul books, Wilson takes her time moving her pieces into place but builds to an exciting climax once the scene is set. Here, most of the climactic events are deferred to the next book. One subplot is resolved, but I didn’t have the same “satisfied” feeling I had at the end of King of Sword and Sky. Then again, maybe that’s because when I finished King, I knew Queen was waiting for me, but now I have a wait ahead of me before I learn what happens next!
King of Sword and Sky remains my favorite of the series so far. If Wilson ties all of her plots up with a great ending, though, the fifth book could very well blow it out of the water.