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REVIEW: Crown of Crystal Flame by C.L. Wilson

Dear Ms. Wilson:

This is a tough book to review because it is the fifth book in an epic romance fantasy story and this story brings to conclusion plot arcs that began in book 1.   For that reason, the measure by which I have judged this book is how satisfying I found it to be as a reader and fan of the series.   How helpful this is to others, I have no clue.   Further, I don’t think that there is anyway that I can write a review or anything about this book without spoiling it for those who haven’t read the series.

Crown of Crystal FlameI will say from the outset that I don’t think this is a good place for new readers to start and the idea of beginning a five book series has to be daunting for new readers. I know that I have shied away from plunging into a highly recommended series because of length.   However, if there are new readers out there who are looking for a good fantasy romance read, I do think that this is a good series to pick up.   Fortunately Avon has re-released in paper and in digital, the entire series in anticipation of this fifth book conclusion.    And if you are picking up the series for the first time, you are lucky you don’t have to wait for the next book to come out.   (I’m saving up all the Moning books because I’ve heard that the wait between books is agonizing).   With those prefatory remarks, let’s get into the book.

Ellysetta and Rain are leaders of a Fey culture that is faced with external threats and internal disease. They are on the brink of war against the Eld, followers of Seledorn, who seek to destroy the Fey and overtake the humans and impose an evil and cruel rule over the world. Internally, the Tairens, creatures that are magically tied to the health and well being of the Fey are dying and are unable to procreate.   If the Tairen die, so do the Fey.

The threats, however, may be intertwined but the most incipient threat is that of war. The Eld are creating Tairen destroying weapons and human destroying creatures.   The Eld have spent decades infiltrating the human world at the highest levels and now will be triggering these Mage entranced humans into engaging in war against their friends and neighbors.

There is a more personal danger to Ellysetta and Rain.   Ellysetta has a tie to the High Mage of Eld.   Everytime she works deep magic, she exposes herself to him, exposes herself to be overtaken by the God of Shadows and become filled with evil. I didn’t find this to be a character arc because magic is the answer to this struggle rather than a personal determination to not give in to the evil.

Probably the biggest criticism of this series and of this book is the derivative nature of it. There are some components of the story that tracked closely with Tolkien’s series: the Eld, the creation of a mass Eld army out of earth, the inclusion of Elves, what roles the Elves play in the fight against the Eld.

There are quite a few battles in this book and I lost track of everyone but that is probably more a flaw of mine than a criticism of the writing but there is a good balance between the battles and the character interaction. There is a huge cast of characters and I could not remember some characters from one section of the story to another.

This is a satisfying conclusion to the end of the saga. Every loose end seemed to be tied up and there is a satisfying conclusion for what started in book 1. While the roots of the story are firmly planted in the romance genre, this entry is more about plot than character development.   The romance you see here is strengthened between the main protagonists: Ellysetta and Rain and there are poignant stories about love lost and love regained which fill in the gaps, perhaps, that exist because Ellysetta and Rain’s romance primarily takes place in books one and two.   But while I thought the story focused a great deal on the conclusion of plot arcs, there is a lot of emotion here based on the character interactions and it is full of romantic passages:

When a Fey warrior meets the woman who completes him, his soul's truemate, he knows in an instant. And in that instant, whether she will have him or no, he binds himself to her, heart and soul with the words "Ver reisa ku'chae. Kem surah, shei'tani."  which means "Your soul calls out. Mine answers, beloved." And he spends the days of their courtship-‘the rest of his life, if necessary-‘proving himself worthy of the magnificent gift of her love.

I admit that   would have been happy if I had just had an ending to the last book – Shan and Elfeya freed. Evil defeated. HEA for all.   One area of complaint that I would have is that   I would have liked to spend a little more time with Shan and Elfeya, two of the elder Fey characters, given how much they were tortured and struggled. Maybe there just wasn’t space but if there was anywhere I felt cheated it was in the resolution to this couple’s story.   B

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Mandi
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 13:36:19

    I agree that it would have been nice to get a little more with Shan and Elfeya – but otherwise I loved this book.

    And yes, so many romantic passages…very poignant moments…it is a good send off for this series :)

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  3. ka
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 17:05:58

    Thanks for an articulate review.

    You wrote, “the idea of beginning a five book series has to be daunting for new readers.” and that’s how I would feel.
    Except I interviewed C.L. Wilson for my blog and she inspired me to take that chance. Plus the comments left by her fans were motivating.

  4. Nikki
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 20:49:46

    I enjoyed the book but was somewhat frustrated. While certain ends were tied up there were a lot of parts that I felt ended a little too easily. There were other sections that I viewed as direct sequel bait. Was I the only one?

  5. C.L. Wilson
    Oct 29, 2010 @ 09:55:36

    Thank you, Jane, for your review of CROWN OF CRYSTAL FLAME. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.

    I intentionally filled the books with nods to the myths, legends, and fairy tales I’ve always loved. The Army of Darkness was not a nod to Tolkien, but rather to the Greek myths about armies sown of dragon’s teeth (Jason & the Argonauts). The same for including Elves, and dragons, and mermaids, and unicorns, and pegasus :) My intent was to create a world where the fantastical creatures I grew up reading about really existed – as if Eloran were the planet our fairy tales, myths and legends really came from.

    @Nikki – I am contracted to write at least two more novels of Eloran. Yes, I deliberately included hints of potential stories to come. I personally like it when my favorite authors do that, because it gives me something to look forward to.

  6. November Recommended Reads | Dear Author
    Nov 01, 2010 @ 04:02:12

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