REVIEW: King of Sword and Sky by C.L. Wilson
Dear Ms. Wilson:
I’ll admit to being a little foolish. Ok, maybe more than a little. After finishing Lady of Light and Shadows and closing the book with a contented sigh, I thought to myself: “What could she possibly do next? Where could she go from here? How could this get any better?” What I found out was that the series, with King of Sword and Sky, actually got a lot better. The book begins a little slowly, allowing the reader to ease back into the story. From there, it starts to build, and then it builds some more until your heart is racing, your pulse is pounding and you’re turning the pages as fast as you can. It was, in a word, fantastic.
The book opens with Rain and Ellie traveling to the Fading Lands. Ellie, still grief stricken over the events in the last book, is not ready to leave her remaining family members behind. I was a little concerned now that Ellie’s fey nature had awakened that she would become this entirely confident, self-assured and bold Tairen Soul. I was worried that we would see this complete transformation and the shy, sweet and generous girl she had been in the first two books would be mostly gone. What I found was that we got a happy mix of the two. The old Ellie is still there, but she’s had to grow up fast. She has powers and a side to her that she was never aware of before. The Tairen in her is fierce and loyal, and very protective of her loved ones. No longer does Ellie see Rain as this near perfect and overwhelming creature from her dreams. Instead, she is his equal in every way and she isn’t afraid to stand up to him and challenge him if needed. In fact, Rain and Ellie’s relationship, and their feelings for each other, continues to grow. I was often left breathless by the sheer depth of their emotion for each other, and amazed by the skill with which Ms. Wilson has created such a continually interesting and exciting romance.
Upon arriving in the Fading Lands, Ellie learns that it’s not the haven she had expected and the challenges begin right away. It seems not everyone thinks that Rain’s beloved truemate is the blessing that she was foretold to be. In fact, some are convinced that they would be much better off without her. In the first two books, Ellie could do no wrong in the eyes of the fey- and I’ll admit to thinking that it got a little tedious at times. Rain adored her. Her quintet would have done anything to protect her. Marissya, Dax and all the other fey in Celieria felt the same. Gaelen, who had set out to kill her, ended up pledging his life to her. Even Rain’s rejection of Ellie at the end of Lady didn’t last very long. In this book, it soon becomes clear that Ellie will face many tests not just from the High Mage Vadim Maur and from within herself, but from the fey as well.
What I enjoyed so much about King of Sword and Sky, and the series thus far, are the characters. Whether it’s due to a lack of depth or originality, too often I close a book and feel that I never really got to know the hero or heroine- let alone the secondary characters. Here, the characters are substantial and diverse and each have a role to play as the story progresses. Some roles are more vital than others, but they’re not just background scenery kicking around for the hero and heroine to have someone to talk to.
And as for the High Mage . . . that is one truly evil character. Every time the point of view went to him, which it did quite often, I felt myself getting a little nervous. If you thought his actions in the first book were bad then wait until you read what happens here. We learn the horrifying lengths that he has gone to in his years of planning. And it has been years. It finally hit home to me just how long he’s had to sink his claws into Celieria, and how much can truly be accomplished in all that time. I actually had trouble reading these sections of the book in a way that I didn’t have even with the last one. Every time I saw that the scene switched back to Eld and the High Mage’s point of view, I turned the page with dread.
However, as difficult as it was to read, I also liked that we have this uncertainty over how bad things are going to get. I liked that we are kept guessing over who will live and who will die. I like that we don’t know what will happen to Ellie in the next book, or how the challenges to Ellie’s and Rain’s relationship may affect them. And that may be why I love this book, and this series so much. It’s just as much a fantasy as it is a romance. The fey world, their society and traditions are skillfully drawn. Their way of life is dying, and the sense of impending doom hovers in the horizon. The battle between good and evil will affect many, and there are no reassurances that the good guys will come out unscathed.
This time when I finished the last page, I didn’t close the book with a contented little sigh. This time, I uttered what could only be described as a strangled gasp of panic. I had to wait how long to read the next-and last- book?!?! How was I going to make it until then?!