Grand Conspiracy (Alliance of Light #2)

( 5 )


Where there is light, there must always be shadow… The fifth volume in Janny Wurts’s spectacular epic fantasy, now re-released with a striking new cover design along with the rest of the series.The wars began when two half-brothers, gifted of light and shadow, stood shoulder to shoulder to defeat the Mistwraith. Their foe cast a lifelong curse of enmity between them that has so far woven three bitter conflicts and uncounted deadly intrigues.It is a time of political upheavel, fanaticism and rampaging armies. ...

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Grand Conspiracy: Second Book of The Alliance of Light (The Wars of Light and Shadow, Book 5)

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Where there is light, there must always be shadow… The fifth volume in Janny Wurts’s spectacular epic fantasy, now re-released with a striking new cover design along with the rest of the series.The wars began when two half-brothers, gifted of light and shadow, stood shoulder to shoulder to defeat the Mistwraith. Their foe cast a lifelong curse of enmity between them that has so far woven three bitter conflicts and uncounted deadly intrigues.It is a time of political upheavel, fanaticism and rampaging armies. Distrust of sorcery has set off a purge of the talented mageborn – none reviled more than Arithon, Master of Shadow. Through clever manipulation of events at the hands of his half-brother Lysaer, Lord of Light, Arithon’s very name has become anathema. Now the volatile hatreds that spearheaded the campaign against Shadow have overtaken all reason.Those that still stand in Arithon’s desperate defence are downtrodden, in retreat and close to annihilation. The stage is set for the ultimate betrayal.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for the Wars of Light and Shadow:‘Astonishingly original and compelling… A gifted creator of wonder’ Raymond E Feist‘Janny Wurts builds beautiful castles in the air … where every detail is richly imagined and vividly rendered’ Diana Gabaldon‘It ought to be illegal for one person to have so much talent’ Stephen Donaldson
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This hefty high fantasy is the fifth volume of the War of Light and Shadow, a saga that represents more than half the author's solo work. It may not immediately please the reader new to the story of the ruthless battle over the future of Athera--will Light prevail and suppress magic, to make the world safe for humans, or will the Shadow preserve magic and the nonhuman races? Even newcomers to the saga, however, will soon recognize fantasy writing of a high level. Both Lysaer of the Light and Arithon of the Shadow are able, charismatic, even heroic figures, but driven by their individual personalities and the demands of their causes to put aside much of their humanity. The focus in this volume is on the conspiracy of the title, in which the ruthless sorceresses of the Koriathain create a double to Arithon, a shepherd boy named Fion Areth, who is to lure the Master of Shadow into the women's trap. The desperate struggle of Arithon and the wizards who help him to rescue Fionn Areth, who believes all the vilest rumors about the cause of Shadow, makes a fine climax to the novel. Wurts is an accomplished builder of worlds, scenes and characters through well-chosen detail, with an ear for dialogue and an eye for realism--her shipboard scenes, the battling street mobs and the reluctantly taxed merchants are exemplary. Though not yet up to Tolkien or Jordan, Wurts is getting there, and fast. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA - Donna L. Scanlon
Fans of Wurts's intricate and elaborate sagas will be eager to read this latest installment in her epic The Wars of Light and Shadow, itself the first book in the subcycle Alliance of Light. The plot is too complex to describe in detail, particularly since it intertwines with the previous books, but it concerns the escalated conflict between half-bothers Lysaer, the Prince of the Light, and Arithon, Master of Shadow. Lysaer incorporates his pursuit of Arithon into his own personal quest for power, while Arithon, seeking peace, struggles to keep the clans loyal to him free and safe while trying to discover where the old, magical races of Athera have gone. Wurts's tale is carefully and thoughtfully constructed and packed with detail, including root origins for the words and names contained in the glossary. Her rich and evocative writing is highly descriptive and usually demonstrates skillful language spinning, although at times the descriptiveness palls. In addition, the book lacks leavening; whatever humor exists is so subtle that it is unrecognizable. It is possible to read this title on its own, especially if one employs diligently the extensive glossary in the back; however, it would be easier to read with the background from the previous books. This is a must-purchase where there is a following; it is recommended to libraries willing to buy the earlier works. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
The defeat of the Mistwraith that threatened the land of Athera brought with it a curse upon the brothers who brought about its downfall. The continuation of Wurts's multivolume fantasy saga depicts the growing enmity between Prince Lysaer, the Lord of Light, and his half-brother Arithon, the Master of Shadows. The author's attention to detail and her skill for creating memorable heroes and villains lend a sense of immediacy to a tale of epic battles and great betrayals. For most fantasy collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007102228
  • Publisher: HarperCollins UK
  • Publication date: 11/5/2007
  • Series: Wars of Light and Shadow Series , #5
  • Edition description: (Reissue)
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 1,415,530
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Janny Wurts is the author of the Cycle of Fire series, co-author of the worldwide bestselling Empire series with Raymond E. Feist, and is currently working on the Wars of Light and Shadow series. She often paints her own covers and is also an expert horsewoman, sailor, musician and archer.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Autumn 5653
One child, four possible fates
looped through the thread of his life span.
He will grow to manhood.
Should he die in fire, none suffers but he.
Yours to choose when the time comes, Fferedon'li.

— from Fionn Areth's birth augury
Third Age 5647

I. Opening Play

The hard frost came to the downs of Araethura early, and the rains at their cusp laced crusts of ice through the peat stacks under the sheds. Indoors, with no fire lit to fend off autumn's breezes, the invasive cold settled at will. Crouched on her knees on the packed earthen floor beside her darkened cottage hearthstone, the Koriani enchantress Elaira cast aside her flint striker. She cupped her chilled fingers, blew on the caught spark. Well versed in the contrary nature of wet peat, she launched into strings of ridiculous endearments, coaxing damp fodder to nourish its struggling wisp of caught flame.

The fateful knock at her door, which shattered her peace, interrupted her then.

Elaira damped back her annoyance. The spill in her fingers fluttered out as she arose, resigned to the usual request for a cough remedy or a tincture to dose a sick goat. For seven years, she had lived alone, plying her herbal wisdom on the moorlands. Time had eased the innate distrust the local herders held toward practice of her craft, and families now came to her freely when trouble visited their livestock and farmsteads. While the leaves turned, and the season's late foraging sent her deep into the hills, such supplicants knew she was best found at home after sundown.

The dark in the cottage weighed likefelt soaked in the sweet meadow scents of the herbs bundled to dry in the rafters. Elaira breathed in the oily must from her fleece jacket, just pulled from storage in her clothes chest. While she threaded between her sparse furnishings by touch, the pounding resumed, impatient.

"Daelion's bollocks, I hear you!" Elaira clawed under her collar, hooked out the silver chain that hung her spell crystal. The quartz as her focus, she invoked mage-sight to steer past the tumbledown stacks of herb hampers and clay jars, long since overcrowding the niche underneath the cluttered board of her work trestle. Barefoot and cold, she reached the door and fumbled with numbed hands for the latch.

Apprehension swept her, unbidden. For the crystallized span of a heartbeat, every fiber of her being clamored in primal, precognitive warning.

Then her roan gelding whinnied from the shed. His call was answered by a strange horse's whicker; a shod hoof chinked against rock, and a distinct chime of bit rings sliced the night. Innocuous sounds; yet their import snapped away the false calm she had wrested from whole years of disciplined solitude.

"Sithaer's begotten demons!" Elaira released her crystal, swept over by needling gooseflesh in the chill embrace of the dark. Those downsland herders who called needing help came on foot, or else they rode in astride scruffy moor ponies with hackamores braided from leather. Their mounts wore no tack with metal fittings. Nor did they ever fare shod.

Her left hand hovered, indecisive, while the knock resounded a third time. The rickety wood panel jounced in its frame and threatened the strapped leather hinges. Before the door gave way under punishment, Elaira tripped up the latch. Wind flung the panel against her braced shoulder and revealed what the fell night had brought her.

A Koriani enchantress stood on her threshold, ruffled into lofty disdain by the inclement Araethurian autumn.

She said, acerbic, "Were you asleep with your bumpkin head under a blanket?" Searing displeasure rolled off her in waves and jut: ted the chin beneath her hood. Whatever her status, the buffeting elements, had abused her like any other traveler. Her initiate's mantle was rumpled and splashed, the hemline snagged loose by a thorn brake. Bristled to yet more extreme irritation, the enchantress inspected the splinters stabbed through her expensive calf gloves. "Beastly boards! Why haven't you found some needy laborer to come here and faire them smooth?"

Elaira clapped down a flyaway tendril of her auburn hair and cracked the offending door wider. "Are you going to rail, or come in?" Her dread pulled awry by irrepressible devilment, she gestured toward the comfortless darkness inside, offering a shelter as rude in simplicity as any length of unsanded oak.

A purposeful rustle, as the woman outside raised her quality, layered silk above the muck-splashed ankles of her riding boots. "Dear woman, how quaint." Aristocratic accents packaged each word with precise and patronizing venom.

The rising winds sliced bitter and chill through that moment, as the unforgotten past encountered the present and irrefutably tangled. Elaira knew who had come. Her recognition raised sourceless panic, and then sharp rage, that the grasping demands of her order would destroy all the hard-won sanctuary she had found in the heart of these barren moorlands.

"First Senior," she greeted, the requisite formality of high office like ice chips between her locked teeth.

Lirenda unclasped her mantle, her air of reserve an acid rebuff. "No longer First Senior." As if upbraiding a junior initiate for an insubordinate attitude, she admitted, "The Prime Matriarch has rescinded my privileges."

That was news; a political break of shattering magnitude, which implied a long fall from position and favor.

All blank practicality, Elaira shouldered the door closed before the raw winds could strip her bundles of dried herbs from the rafters. Her back to barred wood, she endured a tense interval, while the unintimidated gusts continued to howl and batter over the thatch. By her cot in the comer, the one window's shutter shivered and worked on its pins. The drafts through the chinks made no allowance for smashed expectations or shamed pride; the floor gave off its humble scent of dank earth.

"You do keep a candle, I presume," Lirenda said at length.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I can't recommend this series highly enough!

    Mistwraith is an incredibly compelling, action filled, gut wrenching, heart stopping adventure with one of the most incredible love stories I've read in a long time.

    In this one, the Koriani emerge as a truly evil force, as they manipulate spirit and matter to create a double for Arithon and continue to plot his capture or death. Arithon and Elaira build their relationship even stronger. Lirenda is shown the way to love and compassion but shuts herself off in hatred and envy.

    Every character continues to develop and change, events come to cataclysmic climaxes, and Arithon continues to be the most riveting and fascinating heroes in literature. Music weaves its way into the elemental forces of nature. Crystals are used to force power in soul killing ways. The Paravians continue to exert their magical power that leaves men bereft in their absence.

    I can't say enough about this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2004

    Last Book??

    I love the story..but am desperate to find out if this is the last novel???

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2000

    Sadly Disappointed

    The Wars of Light and Shadow has been one of my favorite fantasy series since it's inception. After spending more than a year hungrily awaiting this next installment in the series, I am now rather disappointed with the end result. The Grand Conspiracy lacked many of the elements that made all of the other books so wonderful: rich character development, a beautifully sweeping time scale, and gripping action. Many of the characters seem to lack depth, acting more like puppets than the captivating people they were in the first four books. The time scale of the book felt like it was an after the fact addition. At one point the Fellowship Sorrcers cast a spell that shows them 12 years of peace ahead, promptly skipping the reader forward in time those same years. Perhaps most damming of all the faults in the book is the lack of any really gripping action. In sharp contrast with The Fugitive Prince where Arithon avoided grand conjury, saved the clans, and barely managed to stay alive, the action of this book seems to be only a build up for the next one. Lysaer appears rarely and has no affect on the plot other then to set himself even further against the good guys for the final confrontation. The Witches scheme and muck things up but it never really looks like they will capture Arithon. The Fellowship spends all of its time being frantic and Arithon is never really threatened by anyone. When I bought The Ships of Merior in paperback the author's note said that 'the concept and plotting for the Wars of Light and Shadow [has] been worked through in full in five volumes.' Counting the books in the series I find that the Grand Conspiracy is book five, the one which should have ended the plot entirely. Instead of an end to the series I find a watered down and rather boring installment which was not at all needed. I am very sad that this series has now joined the ranks of 'The Wheel of Time' and 'Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn' as epic fantasy that extended past the point where an end wolud be an improvement. I sincerely hope that the next book wraps up the series in a manner befitting the mastery of the earlier installments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2000

    Wurts shapes, then cultivates a fine read in The Grand Conspiracy

    In the latest fantasy novel by Janny Wurts, The Grand Conspiracy, we find ourselves in a plodding and sometimes slowly manifested intrigue of politics and magical grand conjury. I don't know whether it's me or not, but the passions that I sensed from end to end in the first two instances of this series have been set aside for almost cold ruthless logic. I presage all of the founding passages, knowing that these tiny tidbits are laid down to justify the authors later whims. In the middle of the book I was begging for a reprieve from the brutally methodical pace. Thankfully, I was answered and the culmination of acts previously laid out in detail came to an excitement filled conclusion that almost won me back. I say almost because the next to final act in this book unnerved me. A major scene in the city of Jealot was undertaken in a previous episode of this series and yet the author found it entirely within her right to return us to this city and re-enact the tom-foolery we've already once been through. Granted, Arithon's wit and whimsey while making fools of town guards and initiate witches is fun, but alas, not what I expect from what was once a grand and dark tale. By staging this rerun, she only solidified our suspicion that no matter what the withces do, Arithon will win the day. There was very little, if any concern for his, or his witch-made twin's safety. Remembering those earlier scenes and the especially the first book in this series, there were no dire consequences of Arithon's actions. Nor did we dread all that much, the leadership of his half brother Lysear. I sensed no loss, betrayal, anger, or any other dark emotion that would more surely bind me to its conclusion. This was a nice book. It did not reveal the passion, depth, and thoughtfulness of the first or second book, but has solidified Ms. Wurts intent to write a logical and prose-filled dialogue of the happenings of Athera. This she has done extremely well. Too bad, with all of its potential for greatness, it falls short.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 1999

    THE BEST SO FAR in the Wars of Light & Shadow!

    AN EXCELLENT READ!!!! Thoroughly enjoyable, Janny Wurts lives up to and surpasses her fine reputation. Intricate plots and innuendoes abound... Not for the unadventurous or uninspired reader. A truly ingenious and intellectually stimulating work, artistically enhanced by the author's own original cover and illustrations.

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