The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light & Shadow, #1; Arc 1, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light and Shadow #1)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  2,769 ratings  ·  133 reviews
The stunning first volume in Janny Wurts’s epic tale of two half-brothers cursed to life-long enmity, now re-released with a striking new cover.

The world of Athera lives in eternal fog, its skies obscured by the malevolent Mistwraith. Only the combined powers of two half-brothers can challenge the Mistwraith’s stranglehold: Arithon, Master of Shadow and Lysaer, Lord of Lig...more
Mass Market Paperback, 799 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by HarperCollins (first published 1993)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Best Epic Fantasy
123rd out of 2,143 books — 14,666 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Best Fantasy Series, Trilogies, and Duologies
261st out of 1,497 books — 6,559 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Seak (Bryce L.)
The best thing I can come up with to describe this book is that it's the most frustratingly amazing book I've ever read.

I can see why The Curse of the Mistwraith is one of those love it or hate it kind of books. It's been called overly-long, overly-detailed, and overly-descriptive, but I didn't find that to be the case. Instead, I'd go with the word 'immersive,' a word more often used to describe imagery and 3D technology.

What polarizes readers of this book/series comes down to the writing. This...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Jul 05, 2011 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dedicated Wurts fans
Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Mistwraith at all. I literally was forcing myself to read 50 to 100 pages at a time, before I'd lose interest and set it down again. Had the plot been told in a more linear fashion, with less background and more actual action, I might have enjoyed it more.

The writing suffered from a disjointed structure and over-abundance of verbage. As in example, within the first twenty-seven pages of the book, we are treated to a "Prologue," written in historical fashion; a sea...more
Mar 31, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Fantasy Book Club June 2009
The first book in a sweeping epic, it sets up a complex set of worlds & yet also has a ton of action. If you're looking for something that rivals the Lord of the Rings, I think this is it. If you're looking for a quick easy read, something you can skim through - don't read this book. You'll only get confused. Every word is hand picked & polished to wring out the full meaning.

While the book is a setup to a series, it doesn't end on a cliff hanger, something I appreciate. Actually, it coul...more
"The Curse of the Mistwraith" took me completely by surprise. Based on (obviously mistaken) assumptions, I expected something completely different - epic fantasy, yes, but nothing even close to the gorgeous prose and astounding depth I found in this novel.

The plot of this story is hard to summarize, partly because there are so many twists and turns that it's almost impossible not to run into spoiler territory very quickly. Two half-brothers, Arithon and Lysaer, are on opposite sides of a confli...more
This is a fantasy epic that is truly 'epic'. It has a bit of everything, and a lot of some things. It is not an easy/quick 'summer' read. It takes concentration, patience, and quite a bit of faith to become completely absorbed and brought along to the book's climax (actually the second one). And at that point, it scores a winning run...

This is certainly one that will inspire two things: first, that I get ahold of the rest of the series and dive into them, and second, that in time I go back and r...more
Simply put, I loved this book. From the intriguing Prologue, to the turbulent climax, to the cautiously peaceful denouement, I loved this book. It was a reading experience and I am looking forward to continuing with the rest of this powerful series.

The main characters, half-brothers Lysaer and Arithon, are a living embodiment of Light and Dark in all its permutations: each always in contrast but both absolutely necessary to the other. Born on the splinter world of Dascen Elur and raised to loath...more
Mar 31, 2013 Jon marked it as on-hold
Recommended to Jon by: Jim
ETA 2/11/2013: This is a series that builds with beautifully woven detail. It takes persistence, because there are unreliable narrators, small clues that get lost first time through, etc. But by the time I got to book 9, Initiate's Trial, I saw much more clearly how all of it is woven together. The style takes some getting used to, but after halfway through it reads like butter. (end of edit)

This may have been one of the best books I've read. It certainly has one of the most complex, intriguing,...more
I'm giving up on this one on page 307 of about 600. It's just not grabbing me. Here are my problems with it:

1. I don't understand the basis for the system of magic being used, because it's never really explained. There are long, LONG passages where you read about WHAT the mages are doing, but have no idea HOW or WHY it is supposed to work. I have no idea if the efforts being made are likely to work or not, and so the descriptions fall pretty flat as far as building dramatic tension goes. I see n...more
I give up. It's not often I quit a book, especially after having waded through 400+ pages (and it so highly recommended by readers I trust), but I'm going to be the odd man out on this one.

The farther I got, the less I liked it. I don't care if either prince dies or kills the other. Two-thirds of the way through they (maybe/kinda/sorta) conquered the Mistwraith, and took up trying to be kings. Paradoxically, the initiate enchantress Elaira seemed the best drawn character.

If it had been written f...more
Well, either Goodreads has changed the way you can review books, or I didn't see how to post more than one review before. I've read this one at least 3 times, I enjoyed it that much.

There are two authors whose writing is dense and difficult but in the end reveals a story both exciting and addictive - Janny Wurts and Dorothy Dunnett. I've read and reread their works and never get tired of them.

This first book of what is to be an eleven book series is the introduction to a world of wonder, and in...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This is a good book, this is a well written book, and I wish I liked it better than I do. It is well constructed, it's a well laid out world (worlds?) and the characters are filled out and "fairly" true to themselves.

I can't say that the plot or the characters are particularly original (as some reviewers have)... though to be fair, how many "really" new or original stories and characters are there? Yes, I've seen the "archetypes". There are the brothers one light one dark...caught in destiny's...more
If I had read just the last 50 pages of this novel I would have been quite impressed. They are wonderfully moving, reminiscent (in a good way) of the section in The Return of the King after Sauron is defeated but before the hobbits head back to the Shire.

Unfortunately, those last 50 pages are not earned by the 540 pages before. The first 540 pages were really quite bad -- not because Wurts is a poor writer, but because she is a poor storyteller. The sentence-by-sentence writing is actually quite...more
David Sven
I'm giving this away at 35%. I can't get past the style. It's not like its as hard or harder than reading say Erikson or Hamilton - its just boring me. At 35% I don't think I can put myself through another week of it. Which is a shame because I think the story could be quite good and I suspect the world created could be quite interesting. I like the underlying idea of the book, and I like that it's complex in world building. I really want to like this book. It's just the execution is a little wa...more
Astonishing and remarkable, this series is exceptional…

The curse of the mistwraith volume one of the wars of light and shadow opened my eyes to the greatest fantasy series of all time that is a testimony to what a dedicated, visionary writer can achieve. I was blown away by the sheer originality and creativity that was on a par with JRR Tolkien in regards to its uniqueness and vastly detailed plot that was a delight to behold. This compelling book I was unable to put down as I lost myself withi...more
I'm not sure how I came across The Curse of the Mistwraith. It must be one of those Goodreads finds that unfortunately is not working out for me. I’ve fought to read this far, and I just can’t face it any longer. I took a break and tried to come back to it several times, only to find my determination to finish it waning with distance. Every time I try to start back up again, I get stuck. I keep trying to force myself through this one telling of the history of a sword, and it’s all very momentous...more
*SIGH* This book is one of those that grips you tightly and takes you you on a journey... The writing is lyrical but comples, with layers of nuance. But the imagery... *speechless* It's not an easy takes concentration to gleam understanding and the characters (and you) are more than put through the wringer. (And yes, there are still certain characters that I want to rip apart with my bare hands.) But...this book is so worth it. It has been over a decade since I first read it and yet it...more
Tracy Dobbs
I have had this book for many years, since it's original American release. The story that begins in this volume has incredible depth. There is magic, there is music, there is love and friendship and companionship; finally, there is deep-seated, curse-induced hatred and war(well, closer to a genocidal campaign). This book, indeed, the series as a whole, is not an "easy" read. It is complex and challenging and worth every second that is spent reading.
It is very hard to do justice to a book I find so amazing. This isn't the first time I've read it and it probably won't be the last. And that, to me, is one of the biggest reasons why it gets five stars. There isn't anything I don't like.
The rhythmn of Ms Wurt's writing captures me from page one; a lyricism to the prose I find compelling. I never have to question who or what or where, because, simply, I am there with the characters.
The story itself is the beginning of a fairly long series follow...more
I like the *idea* behind the book, but I can't quite grasp the world she's cast it in. Like, who are these sorceresses and why do they all have a collective stick up their asses? What's with all the apostrophes? And for the high kings or whatever to have been so important, I feel like their only explanation was couched within the story of the sword.


I'm on my first rereading. I'm starting to grasp the plot better, and it's starting to become much easier to grasp and follow along, especial...more
Am re-reading it now with the rest of the series (to-date) under my belt, and appreciating the different perspective I have on it!

In particular, Morriel seems much more introspective and empirical (read: almost human!)than on my previous reads. The captain of the headhunters' league, Pesquil, stood out more as well, and whether I just didn't give him due attention or my focus was elsewhere, his dialogue gave me an angle to the Tal Quorin sequence that I don't recall previously.

The book ages well...more
Martin Davey
Another author who doesn't seem to get the recognition she deserves is Janny Wurts. When I see her name on a book I know I'm going to get wonderful writing, a compelling plot and some truly memorable characters and scenes.

I've only scored this book a four because of my own impatience in reading it. An impatience I think a lot of people might have felt when reading it and in many ways I guess it was a difficult book to write. Anybody drawn to this series already knows how this book ends. I know I...more
Katy Budget Books
Maryann says: The Mistwraith has blanketed the world in dank fog for five centuries. But those who believe the Mad Prophet's words keep faith that a descendant of the long ago banished high kings will come from another world to defeat it. . .

Arithon, the son of a pirate-king, has been trained to be a Master of Shadows but his hearts desire is to be a bard. Crown-prince Lysaer has been denied the teaching needed to skillfully wield his powers of light, but is schooled in way of politics and lead

I finished this book, but I almost didn't like it enough to continue to the end. Having skimmed through some of the other reviews, I had the same problems with it that many of the other not-so-positive reviews had. The biggest issue was that I just didn't care about the characters enough to know what happened. We kept being *told* that they were complicated, tortured people doing their best to do the right thing, but that didn't really come across in their personalities. I also got tired of it b...more
Kathy Davie
First in the Wars of Light and Shadows fantasy series revolving around a twist in how we perceive the Light and the Dark.

My Take
This is a conflict. The story is amazing. Wurts did a great job in creating an alternate world with excellent characters---especially in creating the "bad guy" whose point of view is perfectly reasonable. Considering what's been done to him! The difficulty---and the reason I downgraded it to a "4" is the sentence construction.

Wurts builds the most incredible sentences u...more
Reading this book was like eating an artichoke for me. Just as I really like artichokes, I liked the story and the characters, but, getting to the heart of the story took forever. Just like the elusive heart of an artichoke, the story was buried under layers and layers of prose.

Janny Wurts is a master craftsman at arranging words on a page, but to me the words often got in the way of the story's progression. I like to think I possess a pretty good vocabulary yet I found myself seeking out a dic...more
Ahhh, damn it. I really wanted to like this. I was so looking forward to reading it after loving Empire series.

I rally don't know how to explain what it is that this story lacks. It has the potential for a great story, but I just could not care about the characters. In fact it wasn't that i didn't care, i just couldn't be bothered with them. Both of the main characters were bland and went through the story like they had nothing better to do.

There was no effort in giving the reader anything to...more
I'm a huge fan of the series, and this book in particular. What I love most is Wurt's effort to be unbiased in her writing when it comes to the characters and their actions. I'm hugely an Arithon supporter. I love his character, and the detailed look we get into his person, as well as that of other characters. And, I just love the depth of detail. Some may say Wurt's writing is overly flowery, but I find that, if you can follow it, it adds to the depth and visualization. I find it really helps m...more
Mar 02, 2011 Jane rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
I loved the character of Arithon in this novel, however I got really really frustrated with the 'hand of god' type plot changes at convenient moments. Like when the brothers serendipitiously drink water that gives them a 500 year life span, and then when they are each 'miraculously' cursed by the mistwraith, and the fact that both carry a family heritage of a curse in their primary character traits - placed there sorcerously, and then when Arithon conventiently loses his sorcerous power in time...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Whitefire Crossing (Shattered Sigil, #1)
  • A Magic of Twilight (The Nessantico Cycle, #1)
  • The Broken Crown (The Sun Sword, # 1)
  • A Cavern of Black Ice (Sword of Shadows, #1)
  • The Unremembered (The Vault of Heaven, #1)
  • King's Dragon (Crown of Stars, #1)
  • A Shadow on the Glass (The View from the Mirror, #1)
  • The Ten Thousand (The Macht #1)
  • Secrets of the Sands (Children of the Desert, #1)
  • The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #1)
  • The Winds of Khalakovo (Lays of Anuskaya, #1)
  • Lamentation (Psalms of Isaak, #1)
  • Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun, #1)
  • Flesh and Spirit (Lighthouse, #1)
  • The City
  • The Red Wolf Conspiracy (The Chathrand Voyage, #1)
  • Royal Exile (Valisar, #1)
  • Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1)
Janny Wurts is the author of War of Light and Shadow series, and To Ride Hell's Chasm. Her eighteen published titles include a trilogy in audio, a short story collection, as well as the internationally best selling Empire trilogy, co authored with Raymond E. Feist, with works translated into fifteen languages worldwide. Her latest title in the Wars of Light and Shadow series, Initiate's Trial, cul...more
More about Janny Wurts...
Warhost of Vastmark (Wars of Light & Shadow, #3; Arc 2 - The Ships of Merior, #2) The Ships of Merior (Wars of Light & Shadow, #2; Arc 2 - The Ships of Merrior, #1) Stormwarden (The Cycle of Fire, #1) Fugitive Prince (Wars of Light & Shadow #4; Arc 3 - Alliance of Light, #1) Keeper of the Keys (The Cycle of Fire, #2)

Share This Book

“Damn you," said Arithon. In a shattering change of mood, he was laughing. "You have it. But what's my word against the grandiloquent predictions of a maudlin and drunken prophet?"
"Maybe everything," Felirin finished gently. "You're too young to live without dreams.”
“Let her own shortfalls, and not your vindictive perfectionism, be the quality that throws her to destruction.” 1 likes
More quotes…