Before moving on to another series, I thought I would go ahead and finish the first 3 books in the Wars of Light and Shadow. You can read my review of book 1, The Curse of the Mistwraith, and book 2, The Ships of Merior. The third book is Warhost of Vastmark. It concludes arc 2 of the overall series. Arc 3 is 5 books long and now complete. There are 2 more arcs (totalling 3 books) left in the overall series..meaning the Wars of Light and Shadow will total 11 books when done (at least for now, assuming future books aren't split). Confused? As far as I can tell, there are 5 story arcs within the 11 book series, with each arc telling a story within the overall series. This is similar to how The Shadows of the Apt series tells a somewhat complete story in the first 4 books, though the number of books in the Apt series will be at least 10.
With that out of the way, I want to say that Vastmark is the best in this series so far. Remember that The Warhost of Vastmark was really the 2nd half of the hardcover edition of The Ships of Merior..that hardcover was split into 2 mmpb books due to page count. If you read my review of Merior, you will see that I mentioned that Merior felt a bit incomplete..it was a lot of setup, but nothing much happened. And I also stated the wish that Dakar would become something other than a constant drunk. In Vastmark, both of my disappointments were answered. Dakar "the Mad Prophet" evolves into someone we can finally like, and even, dare I say it, is capable of acts of heroism. His character undergoes the biggest change, and its a welcome one. Also, the story moves forward much more quickly..stuff is happening! All of the pieces that were setup in Merior come into play in Vastmark..so there is some satisfaction that the slower pace of Merior pays off with all the events that take place in Vastmark.
The story also continues to feature the battle between Lysaer and Arithon (of course, since their conflict is the main drive of the story). Lysaer is the Prince of Light, and Arithon is the Master of Shadow. Just going by those titles, you would says Lysaer is the good guy, and Arithon must be the baddie, right? Things are way more intricate and complicated in this series (and I mean that as a positive). While to the outside world in Athera, Lysaer does indeed seem to the hero, in reality, he isn't. What he is, is the unwilling part of a curse that affects both he and Arithon. The real problem is that Arithon knows and accepts the curse, and Lysaer really doesn't. And instead of my floundering around trying to explain this, check the wiki page for the series here. Especially read the short section entitled "Background of the Series":
The idea for the Wars of Light and Shadow originated while researching tactics and weapons. A documentary film on the brutal Battle of Culloden Moor gave her the historical sense of the fighting stripped of any romantic patina. It also helped her realize that education, written history and entertainment serve to justify the actions of the winners and portray the losers as morally wrong and evil. The series attempts to portray the fictional conflict of Lysaer and Arithon in sympathetic terms, illustrating each side with equal pathos. The story tracks the martial, political and personal conflicts of the characters, and the different tactics used by each - a mass following in one case, and a solitary wandering in the other. Wurts narrates each character from their own perspectives, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions about the morality of individual actions
If the above sounds good to you, get this series. It describes what is really going on with the story and characters.
I noticed the "wordy" writing much less in this book..maybe because there is a lot more actually happening. The story and the characters continue to deepen and evolve, making me more and more interested (and invested) in the story. Now that I have read the first 3, I would encourage you to give it a shot if you can accept the writing style (and the overly emotional characters, at times). The depth of the history and worldbuilding is really as good as you will find in ANY story. I also think its a strength of the writing to say that on one hand, it feels like we concluded a bit of the story in Vastmark, but on the other hand, you could also say these first 3 books just set up the rest of series. Both statements are valid. I did feel like the first phase of the story was through. But I also felt like "man, there is a bunch more to come, and I can't wait to see where it goes".
So overall, yeah, I'm really liking this series quite a bit now. Though I will read a couple other books before starting the next arc that begins with The Fugitive Prince.
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