Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts
Janny Wurts is a phenomenal writer, who's writing shows her deep, wise understanding of the human condition, a scientist's exacting eye for detail, and a choice of language to rival a poet's. Her books are large in scope, and rich with fine detail that have you rereading them for years.
Her storyline takes the usual good vs. evil stereotypes and recasts it so that the reader constantly has to reevaluate their own beliefs in order to capture the whole picture. There are no heroes, only people doing as their nature dictates in a desperate set of circumstances, and who, having faced their deepest selves, either rise above it to find peaceful ways to resolution or fall deeper into despair, violence, conniving and hatred.
These books redefine fantasy literature and take it to new heights - deep as K. Le Guin, grand as Tolkien, and as richly esoteric as Donaldson.
Finally, her website www.paravia.com/jannywurts has all the details of her past and current works, as well as one of the best chat groups I've ever had the joy of joining. Janny Wurts gives us updates of where her books are, and gives out details of when & where they'll be published.
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Many complain that Jane Wurts is a difficult read, and that you have to pay close attention. I think that this is one of the best aspects of her writing - she is one of the few authors that I HAVE to pay attention to, and can't just skim based on the clichés of the genre. If you read every sentence and look up the words you don't understand, it allows for a fabulous richness of detail in action, setting and character.
Specific to the War of Light and Shadow (my favorite of her writings to date), it is quite complicated, detailed, and fantastic. The series is a constant tightening of the screws for the main character (Arithon), and the 'antagonist' is portrayed more than sympathetically (though you can still hate him if you want to). It is a story of two half-brothers who are prophesized to rid a world of a blanket of fog, but are bound in unnatural emnity for the rest of their lives. The bulk of the series details their constant struggles against each other, using the world and inhabitants in it as their gamepieces. There's really a whole lot more than that, but it is too much to summarize. Each book is roughly complete with only 1 'cliffhanger' at the end of Grand Conspiracy (I found disappointing). Pay attention, read slowly. She wastes no words and fills each sentence to capacity.
Submitted by Rochelle
The 'Wars of Light and Shadow' have got to be the best fantasy novels I have ever read and I have been reading them for quite a few years. I am totally in awe of Janny Wurts and think she is a truly gifted writer. She is my role model and I can only hope that one day I will be a fraction as great as her. I rushed down eagerly to get her latest novel in the series, 'Perils Gate', and I was intensely dissapointed when I found out after reading this novel that another is not available to be read. Janny Wurts creates such a brilliant environment in which the reader can immerse themselves, slowly being gathered into the story and eagerly anticipating what will come next. She has all of the issues, such as love, that attract the reader to the story without having any of the stereotypical elements that make a story boring and predictable. Her characters seem like real people with real faults and come alive in your mind, making the reader caught up in the struggle between Lysaer and Arithon, never quite knowing who they are ment to support. Her use of the English language is truly ramarkable, often throwing in words that I was not aware existed, and this in its self makes her stories and method of writing truly unique. I wish I could have the chance to talk with her and find out how her mind works and learn from her. I wish I could give her more than a five.
Submitted by Ben
This is by far, the best fantasy series I have EVER read! And I've read a few. Utterly and completely brilliant. I could rave on for hours about this series, but I'll get to the point.
The two main characters of the books are half-brothers, Arithon and Lysaer. Coming from a generations long feud, they are cursed by "The Mistwraith" to hate each other for as long as they both live, and to try everything in their power to kill each other.
The best thing about this series is the avoidance of the tired cliches of fantasy literature. In this story, there is no all-powerful Dark Lord, no evil sorcerors and no-clearly defined good and evil. And it keeps you guessing. I have read all the books written so far, and I can't even begin to guess the ending!
Another plus is the characters, they are all perfectly developed, human characters, with human flaws and imperfections.
All in all, this is the most brilliant set of books I have ever read, surpassed only by Tolkien, and even that is only a courtesy. If I could give this more stars than five, it would be 10 stars.
Submitted by Anonymous
Being a fantasy book fanatic, and having read the exceeding quality of Eddings, Tolkien, Jordan, Kate Elliot and a heap more fantasy authors I can honestly say that Janny Wurts' series Wars of Light & Shadow takes the cake. Utterly original and without the predictable outcomes and plots of most fantasy novels, her characters have the kind of depth that makes them truly human and real to readers. The heroes are flawed in a truly human manner, and the villians have moments of likability!Not for a long time have I come across a fantasy series where I had no clue of the ending! Fantastic reading for those of us who lurv the enthralling escapism of fantasy novels, but are getting tired of the same ol' magic balls and Dark Lords coming up in every book!Don't be daunted by the lack of publicity and recognition surrounding these books (as opposed to Robert Jordan & Eddings, for example) Janny Wurts is fantasy literature's best kept secret!!!!! READ IT!!!