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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. ...
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.
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.
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.
Posted February 7, 2004
Posted January 22, 2000
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 4, 2000
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 11, 1999
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.