Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just Reviewed Lackey and Mallory’s “Crown of Vengeance” at SBR

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Folks, if you are looking for a compelling epic fantasy that’s never boring, features a fine, yet flawed, heroine and a subtext that heroines need love, too (yet can rarely find it), you will really adore Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory’s newest novel, CROWN OF VENGEANCE.  Set in their world of Jer-a-Kaliel deep in the misty past, they tell the story of the great Elven Queen Vieliessar Farcarinon . . . and how the myths and legends that have arisen in the centuries upon centuries since her adventures are both more and less than what she actually was.

Before I discuss more of my typical “after-action report,” here’s the link to my review:

Now, back to the AAR.

See, Vieliessar is a very complex person.  She’s a mage.  She’s a fighter.  She’s a scholar.  She’s a wise and benevolent ruler.  But she starts out very much behind the eight ball, as her mother died giving birth to her, the rest of Vieliessar’s family has been killed due to infighting among the Hundred Noble Houses, and because of that infighting, Vieliessar barely knows anything about herself until age twelve or so.

Instead, she thinks she’s Varuthir, and no one special.  But she hopes to become an Elven knight anyway, and win glory on the battlefield, as that’s the best way for her to gain a name, and home, of her own.

At that point, she is instead sent to the Sanctuary of the Star — the place her mother gave birth, mind you — to become a perpetual servant.  The reason this happens is because the Hundred Houses want no one of Farcarinon left able to reclaim her birthright.  But because one petty, spiteful noble actually tells Vieliessar her real name and just a tad about her heritage, Vieliessar becomes both curious and angry as to why she’s been misled all this time.

The Sanctuary is a safe place for Vieliessar for a number of years.  She learns more about who she is by doing various things, including learning that servants are just as important as nobles, that the status of the Landbonds (serfs tied to the land, more or less — farmers) is far below their actual worth and value, and that she actually has magical talent.

Then, after she’s resigned herself to becoming Vieliessar Lightsister (sort of a combination of mage, cleric and scholar), she has to reinvent herself again due to factional infighting at the Sanctuary.  (Mind you, I didn’t have time to get into that in my review, plus I didn’t want to give too much away.  Read the rest of this AAR at your own risk!)  And she becomes a swordswoman.

At this point, she finds a few of her family’s old retainers — the few that were left alive after the destruction of House Farcarinon — and decides to go to war.

But she’s not going to war with the other nobles, even though they think she is due to her destiny as the “Child of the Prophecy.”  (I talk more of this in my review.)  Instead, she knows she must unite the noble houses behind her banner in order to fight the nasty, vicious, disgusting and evil Endarkened — blood mages of the worst sort, who don’t see themselves as evil but obviously are.

Note that Vieliessar does not know who the Endarkened are, much less what.  But she does know that some sort of monstrous evil has been prophesied.  She also knows that she’s sensed something really bad out there that doesn’t like Elves, and figures that this must be the evil that’s been prophesied.  (She’s right, too.)

Book one mostly discusses Vieliessar’s quest to unite the noble houses.  It’s an absorbing read so long as it’s fixed on Vieliessar’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations — and it’s even interesting when dealing with the petty, political one-upmanship seen in the various maneuvering of the noble houses as they try, in vain, to escape their eventual joint fate as vassals to Vieliessar.

Really, if you enjoy a good, solid epic fantasy, you will love this book.  And if you loved any of Lackey and Mallory’s previous six collaborative efforts, you will assuredly love this book . . . so what’s stopping you from first reading my review, then reading the book itself?  (Go pick up a copy today!  Further reviewer sayeth not.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 17, 2013 at 3:09 am

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