Stormed Fortress is book 5 in the second arc of The Wars of Light and Shadow.
For long time fans of Ms. Wurts this represents a significant closure of many different facets of a series that has been many years in the crafting. This is not a starting point in the series despite a good summation of the previous books at the beginning.
Ms. Wurts has been developing a running conflict between the two half-brothers Arithon and Lysaer which has been exacerbated by a magical curse to ensure their enmity and that their cooperation doesn’t allow for a complete solution to much of the world’s problems. The conflict finds a significant culmination as allies of Arithon are exposed for the role they have played in undermining Lysaer’s interests. The results of this major engagement and the events leading up to it are the meat of the story.
The more important undercurrent of Stormed Fortress is a continuation of Wurts’ discussion of how faults and character weaknesses can be exploited. This has been an on-going issue throughout the story, but it rises as a major subplot when characters are repeatedly twisted into actions and situations not of their choosing because of their own flaws. This leads to some really interesting examination of how our purest motivations can be twisted entirely out of the scope of our intent.
Stormed Fortress represents a very acceptable resting place in the story, but it is far from the end. If you have enjoyed The Wars of Light and Shadow thus far, then that’s not a bad thing. Many important seemingly underdeveloped storylines are brought to a successful conclusion and there are also sweeping changes affected on many of the steady supporting characters. Some of this is sad, but other changes, and the comeuppance that certain factions endure, are gloriously satisfying.
What I enjoyed most in the story has been the evolution of Sulfin Evend. A central figure to the forces of the opposition to the protagonist, his evolution from blinded fanatic to enlightened, knowing catalyst in support of the good in his twisted master, has been very well done. This is not a simple wave of the wand from bad guy to good guy, but a knowing, painful transition between ignorance and knowledge. Great stuff.
The writing is very vocabulary intensive. Don’t expect weak descriptive terms that are used over and over again. Ms. Wurts doesn’t skimp in trying to give description to experience and events that would normally defy the attempt. How do you describe the breath-taking harmony of a musically based magical event that affects an entire battlefield? Well, she does.
Stormed Fortress has been worth the wait and seeds a happy anticipation of what is still to come.