Warhost of Vastmark: Quickly becoming one of my favorites

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Janny Wurts Wars of Light and Shadow 3. Warhost of VastmarkWarhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts

Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts takes up directly where The Ships of Merior left off. The two books are definitely meant to be read back to back — together they comprise Arc 2 of the author’s THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series, and some editions actually combine both of them in one cover.

It’s hard to give many details of the story without throwing in spoilers for The Ships of Merior, so I’ll just say that the ongoing conflict between Arithon and Lysaer, which reached a seeming climax at the end of The Ships of Merior, actually balloons to even larger proportions and reaches a stunning high point at the end of the novel. The book contains a hilarious moment of hijinx (the “triple theft”) that’s so carefully set up and brilliantly executed you’ll want to re-read the chapter. Some characters show some (to me at least) unexpected changes, and some previously minor characters develop into very fascinating pieces of the puzzle.

While the story progresses, we also learn more about the world of Athera, its past, and the various groups and factions that make this such a complex and intriguing fantasy universe. The odd side-effect of this slow revelation of world-building details is that you simply want to read and learn more, even as the picture gradually resolves and the story progresses. These novels all have a solid and very satisfying ending, but at the same time they definitely leave the reader hungry for more.

Janny Wurts‘ novels are generally complex and challenging, and as such they require the reader’s full attention. I’m sure people looking for light reading might be turned off by their rich prose and long-term plotting. However, if you’re willing to give them the time they deserve, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. I’ve rated the previous two books in this series 5 stars, and astonishingly, Warhost of Vastmark is at least as good as The Curse of the Mistwraith and The Ships of Merior. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite epic fantasies.

~Stefan Raetsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

fantasy book review Janny Wurts Wars of Light and Shadow 3. Warhost of VastmarkCheers to Ms. Wurts!

The Mistswraith’s curse has taken hold of Prince Lysaer’s inherited mistrusts and blinded him into the belief that his step-brother, Arithon the Master of Shadow, can be anything other than evil and must, at all costs, be exterminated. Lysaer’s warhost relentlessly pursues Arithon and the clans to the craggy wastes of Vastmark. But Lysaer may soon learn the hard lesson that a wolf is most dangerous when cornered.

The Wars of Light and Shadow saga is one of the most original epic fantasies — and uniquely written stories — I’ve ever read. Janny Wurts is an amazing author who not only writes with an elegant prose that is easily identifiable as her very own, but her themes break new ground. At the heart of this story is a conflict of obsessions: Lysaer’s unyielding dedication for justice and Arithon’s unreserved compassion — two ideals which should go hand-and-hand but, when put at fanatical odds, a world can be devastated.

If you’ve read the first two books, The Curse of the Mistwraith and Ships of Merior, I’m sure you’re already hooked just like I am. Warhost of Vastmark will only further fuel your enthusiasm.

Since my own personal taste in fantasy usually leans toward darker and grittier stories (and probably because I’ve gotten a little cynical in my middle-age), I’ve become rather callous about the characters in most books I read. Cheers to Ms. Wurts! She has managed to stir up in me a compassion for fictionalcharacters that I have not felt in quite some time.

~Greg Hersom

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STEFAN RAETS (on FanLit's staff August 2009 — February 2012) reads and reviews science fiction and fantasy whenever he isn’t distracted by less important things like eating and sleeping. In February 2012, he retired from FanLit to focus on his blog Far Beyond Reality.

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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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