|Submitted by Angus Bickerton |
(Jul 02, 2008)
Wow — This book has it all: intrigue, suspense, epic battles, romance, tragedy, bravery, evil, and incredible strength. The trouble is that I can hardly talk about the contents without creating spoilers.
This is the last book in The Alliance of Light, which is the third story arc in The Wars of Light and Shadow, and as a result a lot of sub-plots are wound up, and in a way that makes the faithful reader of this series almost explode with each turn of the page. This is easily the strongest book of The Alliance of Light arc. So many loose threads are wrapped up and woven into the tapestry of this series that the reader feels somewhat sated at the end, yet enough is left undone that leaves the reader eagerly awaiting the beginning of Arc IV (as yet untitled). The Wars of Light and Shadow is an epic series with five story arcs. Arc IV and V remain, and will likely total three books (by the author’s estimation), to add to the eight already released in this series.
What I find most thrilling about Stormed Fortress, and the series as a whole, is that it is in no way predictable. The villains in this series are multi-dimensional, believe themselves to be on the side of right, and at times are sympathetic. Also, the so-called good guys are not necessarily good all the time. The conflict is a very human one, and is therefore very honest. There is no Dark Lord here, but rather the much more ordinary and everyday human evil, which is perhaps much harder to face. As a result, this read is not escapism, but it is a book (and a series) that makes you better for having read it.
Wurts uses the siege of the s’Brydion fortress of Alestron to focus the conflict between the half-brothers Arithon and Lysaer in such a manner that the conflict really becomes a battle inside all of the individual characters, not just the brothers. This is Wurts’ main strength. Her characters are all distinct, and do not remain static from book to book in this long a series, which is a complaint that I have about much epic fantasy. Also, her writing is a rich weaving of words that create a tapestry that is evocative of a time when the reading world was not dumbed-down by text-messaging, e-language and reality television. Her prose is beautiful and multi-layered, her command of the written word is inspiring, and her world-building is unparalleled.
Do not read this book as a stand alone. If you have not read any in the series yet, start with The Curse of the Mistwraith, as The Wars of Light and Shadow is now at eight novels, and it is complex and full of sub-plots and developments that require the series to be read as a whole. It is truly epic fantasy that tackles issues of personal and societal morality, and it is not light sword-and-sorcery fluff. There is even an obvious and yet unintentional parallel with current events in our world, which shows how history so easily repeats itself. To the reader who has not started this series, I am envious of the great first-time reading that you will enjoy.