This is the third in the ‘Lirieia’s Children’ trilogy, following on from ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Affirmation’. The first was a slightly wobbly beginning, but the second was much more readable, for me, with tighter writing, plenty of action, and well-drawn characters. It ended with our heroes on the brink of battle.
It’s a year since I read ‘Affirmation’, and
many other books have passed through my Kindle since. While I remember
the main characters and the general drift of the story, the details are
gone, and life’s too short to reread everything before the next volume.
Unfortunately, the author makes no concession to readers like me at all.
There’s no synopsis, virtually no in-text reminders. Here’s the
“Their excitement was beginning to diminish,
rapidly becoming replaced by exhaustion. Surveying the battlefield from
the air, they cautiously allowed the bubble of Translocation energy they
held to dissipate. The enemy archers were either dead or had fled and
the last of the enemy forces were rapidly retreating through the Lord
Defender’s Translocation portal, harried by Jurel’s Gryffin Guard.”
clues as to who ‘they’ might be? Believe it or not, it’s several pages
before the identity of the opening characters becomes clear, and I
struggled to keep up during the early chapters. Some of it came back to
me as I read, but there are still mysteries; there’s a man called Ben,
described regularly as a ‘jolly smith’, who was picked up by some of the
characters in a previous book. Have I any idea how they met, or why he
tagged along? Not in the slightest. Does it matter? Probably not, but it
still sets me on edge.
Fortunately, I was able to pick up enough
as I went along, either from clues in the text, or dredged from memory,
to follow along, although I daresay I lost some of the subtleties. The
main characters are Anarion, the half human, half Orryn, mage, and
Teryl, his telepathically linked Gryffin pal. The various races are one
of the great joys of this series. They each have their own unique
characteristics, and the author is brilliant at applying them, through
behaviour and dialogue. It’s possible to read a piece of dialogue out of
context and know exactly what race was speaking, and that sureness
never faltered. The different magic systems between the Orryn (who have
innate magical capability) and humans (who power their magic through
stones) is fascinating, and one of the key themes of the story. I was
disappointed, however, that the tiny Grovale (the Gryffins’ servants)
made no appearance in this book. I would have liked to know more about
The minor characters are more problematic. This is the
downside of including several races, in that there are vast numbers of
named characters, few of whom actually stand out. There were some I knew
nothing about, not even what race they were. There were some who were
more than just walk-on parts. Shayla was a great character, and her
dealings with the Lord Defender (the villain of the piece) were
brilliantly written, entirely in keeping with the personalities of both
and very moving. Kaidal was another with a stand-out part to play.
here we come to the main problem with this volume of the trilogy. The
plot comes down to the question of how to defeat the Lord Defender.
Since the major battle of the series was in book 2, and Anarion and his
pals have run off to hide out in the desert away from his reach, the
entire book revolves around planning to tackle the Lord Defender head
on, and the best means to do that. Chapter after chapter involved large
groups of people simply sitting around discussing the various options,
and arguing about them. There was virtually no action, apart from the
odd diversion for Anarion and Teryl to frolic with their lady friends,
or a couple of experimental forays.
Eventually, however, we get
to the final confrontation and suddenly things become interesting again.
The resolution is both entirely appropriate for the races involved and
yet quite unexpected, and I applaud the author for not taking the easy
way out, but following the story to its logical conclusion. There is a
teeny bit of arm-waving out-of-nowhere-ness, but even that made sense in
the context of the story. And there are some really deep themes buried
beneath all the magical portals and illusions and 'knowings', about what
it really means to be human.
I find this a very frustrating
review to write. This is a book which is brimming with creativity. It's
taken some very original ideas and developed them in a logical and
thought-provoking way. It could have been a great book, something I
could happily give 5* to. It's a diamond of a story, but unfortunately
it's an unpolished diamond. All the elements are there: great
characters, great world-building, a great plot and magnificent attention
to detail. The downside of attention to detail, though, is a tendency
to throw in every little conversation and tie-up every conceivable plot
thread, all at excessive length. With some editorial buffing, and
excision of some of that wordiness, it could have been a true gem.
those who aren’t bothered by the often dry wordiness, I can highly
recommend the whole series. I enjoyed it and was captivated by the
Orryn, the Gryffin and their very well drawn racial differences, and the
ending was excellent. However, the flaws in this book in particular
kept it to three stars for me.