Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, bestselling authors individually and together, return to the world of their New York Times and USA Today bestselling Obsidian and Enduring Flame Trilogies with Crown of Vengeance.
Here, readers will learn the truth about the Elven Queen Vielissiar Faricarnon, who was the first to face the Endarkened in battle and the first to bond with a dragon. She worked some of the greatest magics her world has ever known, and paid the greatest Price.
Crown of Vengeance is an exciting fantasy adventure that will appeal to fans of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series. No previous knowledge of Lackey and Mallory's collaborations is necessary to enjoy this fast-paced, action-packed novel, but returning readers will be excited to discover this amazing story.
Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & Music, a small recording company specializing in science fiction folk music.
"I'm a storyteller; that's what I see as 'my job'. My stories come out of my characters; how those characters would react to the given situation. Maybe that's why I get letters from readers as young as thirteen and as old as sixty-odd. One of the reasons I write song lyrics is because I see songs as a kind of 'story pill' -- they reduce a story to the barest essentials or encapsulate a particular crucial moment in time. I frequently will write a lyric when I am attempting to get to the heart of a crucial scene; I find that when I have done so, the scene has become absolutely clear in my mind, and I can write exactly what I wanted to say. Another reason is because of the kind of novels I am writing: that is, fantasy, set in an other-world semi-medieval atmosphere. Music is very important to medieval peoples; bards are the chief newsbringers. When I write the 'folk music' of these peoples, I am enriching my whole world, whether I actually use the song in the text or not.
"I began writing out of boredom; I continue out of addiction. I can't 'not' write, and as a result I have no social life! I began writing fantasy because I love it, but I try to construct my fantasy worlds with all the care of a 'high-tech' science fiction writer. I apply the principle of TANSTAAFL ['There ain't no such thing as free lunch', credited to Robert Heinlein) to magic, for instance; in my worlds, magic is paid for, and the cost to the magician is frequently a high one. I try to keep my world as solid and real as possible; people deal with stubborn pumps, bugs in the porridge, and love-lives that refuse to become untangled, right along with invading armies and evil magicians. And I try to make all of my characters, even the 'evil magicians,' something more than flat stereotypes. Even evil magicians get up in the night and look for cookies, sometimes.
"I suppose that in everything I write I try to expound the creed I gave my character Diana Tregarde in Burning Water:
"There's no such thing as 'one, true way'; the only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself; leave the world better than you found it. Love, freedom, and the chance to do some good -- they're the things worth living and dying for, and if you aren't willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race."
I absolutely adored Lackey & Mallory's Obsidian trilogy and thoroughly enjoyed the sequel Enduring Flame trilogy. Crown of Vengeance is the first book of a trilogy set several thousand years before the events of the Obsidian books, and it is not like either of the two other trilogies.
The main reason being: this book, unlike the others, features the Elves. I think that was always going to be the biggest hurdle for this trilogy, simply because a) the Elves in this world live around about a thousand years, and b) the Elves' society is incredibly complex. And I don't think modern readers are used, anymore, to convoluted, intricate High Fantasy, or to stories which are drawn out over centuries. (I'm not entirely certain how many years Crown of Vengeance spanned, but I would guess it covers about a hundred years - probably not much less than that?)
What this means is that there is no central action to this book. There is a lot of action - I lost count of the number of battles, and even more happened off-screen - but none of it is central. What Mallory and Lackey have actually done is presented us with a war - not the quick handful-of-battles that modern fantasy has gotten us used to, but an actual war. Which is long, complicated, and drawn-out, so yes, there is potential to be bored. We're used to having a clear plot, with most of a book being build-up leading to a final climax. That's not what Vengeance is about. Vengeance, despite the Elves and mages and demons, is far more realistic than any fantasy novel I've read for years; named and familiar characters die, battles don't turn out as planned, campaigns are drawn out and the weather goes against the soldiers. I would say it's revolutionary for that, except that I don't think it will have that effect; the book is so intimidatingly long, and so unapologetically complex, that I don't see it becoming as popular as it would need to be to wake the fantasy genre up a bit.
So there is Vengeance's main skill and it's main flaw: it's long. It's drawn out. It covers a length of time that is much, much more than we're used to and it hammers home the realism - which, unfortunately, is not the exciting stuff we'd like it to be.
That does not make it a bad book, though: if you can stick with it, if long and complicated is your cup of tea (as it is mine) then you are in for a treat. I lost count of the number of times I shouted out loud in protest when something bad happened, when the 'bad guys' broke the rules or otherwise harmed my favourite characters. Considering the lack of any real connection we get to the characters (there are too many, and the writing is too impersonal for us to get a really good grasp of anyone, even, I thought, Vielissiar herself) I found myself surprisingly involved in rooting for my team, and genuinely angry when things went against them. I'm not sure how to analyse how that happened.
In fact I'm not really sure how I feel about this book at all. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down - I had to know what happened - and that is why I'm giving it four stars (because readability is, frankly, the main sign that the book you're reading is a good one). I'm also a huge fan of realistic fantasy, even if it makes writing a story (or reading it) more difficult.
On the other hand: none of the villains felt very three-dimensional to me. They were all petty and pretty stupid, with no real redeeming qualities at all. I have no problem with the Endarkened (the demons in this world) being unmitigatingly evil; that's the set up here, that's what they are. But the mortal villains? They hate each other, they hate their spouses, their children, and the men and women who fight for them. They make the same mistakes over and over, you can predict what they'll do by picking the stupidest option available - it's a bit much. But all these flaws are plausible and explainable in context - the 'bad guys' rely on their superior numbers to win, they've spent centuries not trusting each other, etc.
So: I'm not sure how to class this one from a literary pov. But as a reader? I loved it, and lapped up the intricate social customs, the long names, and the history. I heartily recommend it - just make sure you have a LOT of free time, because this is a huge one!
:edited to add: So, it's 2017 and I reread this one to prepare for the long-awaited sequel. And I'm upgrading my rating to five stars. Because this book is amazing, and being older and a little bit wiser, I can better see and understand that than I could five years ago. I could not put it down. Why did I ever claim the characters were two-dimensional? Or that there was little action? I want to shriek with delight at how well Lackey and Mallory played with the Chosen One trope, how they explained it - we've seen chosen ones in a thousand thousand stories, and things always just happen to go their way, but here the authors explain why that is, and I think that's only the second time I've ever seen a book provide a valid explanation for the protagonist's incredible good luck. (The other being the Kushiel sequence by Jacqueline Carey, where the gods are real and very much pulling strings to protect their chosen.)
I loved everything about this and cannot wait to jump into book two. I think I officially love this even more than the Obsidian Mountain and Enduring Flame trilogies - even if I'm still waiting on the promised dragons!
There will be some people that love this and I wanted to be one of them, I really did, but that did not happen. This took almost a month to read, and those of you who know me ( like Sharon) will say WTF took you so long? Well this thing dragged the everlovin' life out of me. It's a YA soap oprea novella masquerading as a GRRM rip off, complete with loads of battle scenes, so many I lost count. A heroine who is the fulfillment of a prophesy, kidnapped at birth, sequestered in a special school for gifted "lightborns" who is actually more powerful than any of the other students there. ( sound familiar.) yeah but not really. Then there is a war over a throne( again familiar) yeah but not really. Our girl is " insta" bonded to her mortal enemy in the midst of a huge battle so he can't kill her or he dies too. ( that makes dating difficult) its like a poisonous Romeo and Juliet story as well. All the baddies are 100% bad with no redeeming qualities, the good guys are 99% bad as well, with very few redeeming qualities, and everybody wants to rule the word. there are elves, and goblin like creatures ( not Hobbits) sorcery, ( no golden ring as of yet) but dang this was a set up for something in a later book, I just couldn't be bothered to figure out what it was....zzzzzzzzzzzz! Snore fest! Updated 10/30/2012 I finally figured out what was missing from this book,(I wrote this review very quickly, under duress during the storm) First there was no humor: no comic relief, no character that had a sense of the absurd. The funniest thing that occurred was Veil naming her steed " Snapdragon" because it nipped at her. ( Where is a "Tyrion" when you desperately need one? ) Second there was no passion: it was flat, when a character meets his or her " bonded mate" no matter what the circumstances, there should be at least a minor tug at the heart, if not a major lightening bolt to the brain. There was really nothing except " oh oh I can't kill him/ her or I will die too, and I can't die because I want to rule the kingdom? Third, it was a constant flat line. hopefully there is a plot set up, a rising action, a respite, a falling action, a plot twist or two, another rising action, a climax and a falling action and an anti climax. Trust me there was no climaxing of any sort in this story... That's what else that was missing... No desire, no yearning, no... Nuthin'! Mind you, I'm not saying that sex is everything but this was so stripped of anything sensual, or in anyway tactile, that it was, well ....just boring.
Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
All hail a new trilogy from the mistress of magical stories! Hmm, if you expect dispassionate diatribes you are at the wrong blog. I suppose Ms. Lackey could write something I wouldn’t like but I suspect not! Mr. Mallory is new, to me. Obviously I am not forced to check out his work as this was a wonderful beginning to a new trilogy set in a bucolic world of dark and light where white has no idea that black exists. It is a story of kingdom building not due to lust or greed but due to a dismal prophecy.
Vieliessar of Farcarinon finds herself living a monastic life without the benefit of any magic. She is a child of a disgraced and destroyed High House in a culture that has ennobled battle to an art form. She is an angry child that grows into an angry young woman searching for self identity.
The book continues in the Lackey tradition with poetic imagery found in battle and in Flower Forests. The simplistic nature of the basic plot of dark against light does not detract one whit from the complexity of the story. Bards will sing of the books and the heroic and despicable populace of this, the first book, in The Dragon Prophecy trilogy.
I finished listening to the audio version of Crown of Vengeance, the first in Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory’s DRAGON PROPHECY series. It tells the story of Vielissar Farcarinon, an Elvish mage who discovers when she is twelve that her parents were killed and her ancestral house destroyed by the people who fostered her, House Caerthalion. She nurses her rage and quest for vengeance as she learns to channel the Light. However, she soon finds out that she is the Child of the Prophecy, a foretold hero who will both save the world from the demonic Endarkened and shake Elvish culture and tradition to its very foundation.
There is much i could say. this is an amazing book. i have always loved merecedes lackey's works and especially her collaborations with james mallory. this one is no exception. my only real complaints are that i felt it dwelled too much on veille's refusal of the call so to speak, but i dont feel that the narrative suffered for it. though i did find myself habing to remind myself that the book took plave over a bast period of time. the characters were well fleshed out and i honestly cant wait to read the next book.
Just finished this book. It is a long one but it is worth it. I can't wait for the next book in the series. If you liked the other books Mercedes Lackey has written with James Mallory you will love this one. It is a prequel to their other books in the Obsidian Universe. Here is the list of books so far in this series but since this is a prequel you don't need to read them first.
The Obsidian Mountain Trilogy The Outstretched Shadow (2003) with James Mallory To Light a Candle (2004) with James Mallory When Darkness Falls (2006) with James Mallory
Enduring Flame Trilogy The Phoenix Unchained (2007) with James Mallory The Phoenix Endangered (2008) with James Mallory The Phoenix Transformed (2009) with James Mallory
Dragon Prophecy Trilogy Crown of Vengeance (Fortcoming) with James Mallory
I believe I've expressed my skepticism about the second Obsidian trilogy in my reviews of those books, but I'm perfectly fine with this book, and I can't wait for more in the series. Think of the Elves from the original trilogy, only instead of the refinement of Jermayan and Ashaniel, they are a bunch of murderous assholes. The world of this book is structured somewhat like medieval Europe, with feudal overlords on top and the great common mass beneath them. So the legendary Queen Vieliessar Farcarinon has to do away with all of this and unite the Elves in time to deal with the Endarkened, who are lurking around, and occasionally pop into the story, in brief interludes. Good book, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
The first book by Lackey that I couldn't at least finish. I had no clue what was going on, there was nothing remotely familiar anywhere, and seriously, I know this is High Fantasy, but that's no reason to give Every. Bloody. Character. stupidly long names that I can't keep straight. This was fine in the Obsidian trilogy, because we saw elven culture through an outside perspective. Here, it's just annoying.
May not be anything wrong with this book but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it was too creative for me, such unusual races of "people"/creatures, such unusual points of view, such strange names. Maybe I don't have patience for things that are that different from anything I'm used to. So, there's nothing wrong with the book, the problem is more likely me, just not my cup of tea.
I recommend you read it though just to see for yourself what you think of it. Maybe it's YOUR cup of tea.
This book describes an Elvish society in a world where knights fight, kings rule, servants serve and the Lightborn are trained in magic. It's a wonderful and intriguing world and one I am looking forward to visiting again. The world the book describes is more Westeros (Game of Thrones) with extra magic than Lothlorien (Lord of the Rings), however the names of people and places certainly aren't. So, first things first: If terribly long, intricate and hard to pronounce names annoy you, then know that this book contains many, many, many such names. Sure, most are unique enough that you can basically look at the name on the page and know who or what is being talked about without having to sound out / read out the entire word in your head. But still. Heck, maybe I'm the only one who does this, you never know. But really, try pronouncing Celephriandullias-Tildorangelor (the name of a mythical city in the story) without mentally stumbling over the words or your brain taking a moment to figure out what it just encountered, causing a short interruption in the flow of your reading. And while yes, the names of people and places in this story are marvellous and magical and terribly Elvish sounding and wonderful to pronounce once you can make your mouth properly shape the words, that short interruption in the flow is annoying. But enough about that.
Vielliessar is our main character, a woman raised by the enemies of her family after her parents, nobles with a castle / keep, servants, land and subjects were killed by rivals. I'm really tempted to write 'rival houses' but those words together in my head make me think of Romeo and Juliet. And no, this isn't Romeo and Juliet for there are a hundred great houses in this crazy world, not just two in fair Verona where we lay our... No! Stop it! Back to the story. Now, see what I mean about distractions and the flow being interrupted... It even happens when I'm writing about the book!
While this world is unique and does not seem to borrow from or be modelled on other fantasy stories I've read, I can't help but compare this world to other magical / fantasy worlds I've read about. There's Westeros and Lothlorien which I've mentioned, however there are similarities to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover as well, and aspects of Anne Bishop's Kaeleer too. Perhaps when push comes to shove, creating a fantasy world where modern real-world technology is unknown, is near-impossible without that world turning into a medieval-style construct filled with castles and keeps, warlords and mages... Still, apart from the long and intricate names in the book that I've developed this love/hate thing for, I really don't have any complaints about this book. It was fun, well-paced, intricate and well thought-out.
This one took a while. I don't mind spending a good bit of time on a good book, but this one required more active commitment than I generally like; I had to push myself to finish it.
1) Vielliessar is a powerful, complex heroine, more than up to any task. 2) Her enemies of the Alliance were not portrayed as thoroughgoing villains; rather, her chief opponent is a man of principle whose ideas about "the right thing to do" diverge crucially from Vielliessar's. I find antagonism between two "heroes" with different ideas a bit more intriguing than the usual hero vs. villain conflict. 3) The world building is vivid and elaborate.
1) The writing style is more dense and much more dry than I'm used to from Mercedes Lackey, whom I usually enjoy (I'm not familiar with Mallory's work, and I haven't read their other collaborations). Quite often I got the sense I was reading a history book rather than a novel. 2) I don't mind unusual names in fantasy. I'm perfectly capable of connecting emotionally with characters with otherworldly names. But I like being able to pronounce the names in my head as I read them. Nearly every character in this novel -- Thurion being the only exception I can think of -- has a name so obscure it's both distracting and distancing. 3) There is no humor in this novel. None. 4) I had little to no idea what all these characters looked like. The most concrete detail I got regarding Vielliessar's appearance is that she has black hair. 5) Action scenes and battle sequences are all well and good, but less than halfway through, we get nothing else. Relationships between characters are regrettably underdeveloped. 6) All these elements combined to keep me from making a strong investment in the characters and their story. I admired Vielliessar and appreciated what the authors were trying to achieve with her -- you want a strong heroine, here she is -- but I wanted to LOVE her, and I could never quite manage it, not because of her flaws (I appreciated those) but because I got only a few glimpses here and there of her interior life. What makes her laugh? What makes her smile? What makes her cry (or more appropriately, try not to cry)? I never got much of an idea. Instead, I felt a sense of missed opportunity. This character could have been so much more.
This was better than the Enduring Flame Trilogy, but still didn't rate more than 3 stars.
---The Good:--- The magic system was interesting.
I really loved seeing the elven society and seeing the gradual pushing toward the (future) elven society we read about generations later. It was an interesting game almost to pick out which aspects will be kept, and see bits and pieces introduced and know how they are going to eventually end up woven into their society down the line. Honestly, this was probably the only thing that kept me reading the book all the way to the end. (That and being OCD.)
Vielessar undergoes some good character growth. I felt like the change from petulant child, to patient and worldly middle-aged elf was gradual and believable.
The demon interludes were interesting.
---The Bad:---- Time passing was SO inconsistent. There would be times where time would pass and there was absolutely no frame of reference to how much had passed until chapters and chapters later we figure out it must have been nearly 100 years. Yet with all the contextual descriptions earlier, at most I can figure out it's only been 60, tops. And then tons and tons of events would be packed into the space of say, mere weeks. It was annoying.
Vielessar's growth from mage to War Prince in less than a year was unbelievable. Even with magic to back her up. And "magic" and "prophecy" was pretty much the only backup used. She spends 100 years becoming a mage, you would think at least SOME of that development would be hinted or described in the book toward making the transformation more believable.
The demon interludes didn't have much real connection to the rest of Vielessar's story or elvenkind.
Again, like the Enduring Flame trilogy, the cimax and wrap-up of the book was too quick. Super-Awful-Impossible-To-Overcome thing happens with 2 chapters left (with very little foreshadowing even), we discover it's the whole crux of the prophecy about Vielessar, and yet then Super-Improbable-Resolution occurs to deal with it.
Zombies. AGAIN?! Can Mallory just stop with the zombies already?
No mention of dragons in the book, anywhere. That's the biggest part of the legend of Vielessar that we learn about generations later, and it wasn't anywhere in the book. I'm guessing that means there is supposed to be a sequel or two.
I listened to the audiobook, and maaaaan the narrators were fantastic and the story, though quite long, is pretty excellent as well. I downloaded the audiobook 3 years ago and have attempted to finish it 4 or 5 times (as many times as I tried to take up running), and I've finally finished it. Grit and determination! I am High King of Eventual Follow Through!
This story has a bunch of my favorite stuff. A prophecy, vengeance, cool magic, a strong lady taking the power back, destroying the status quo, empowering the common folk, uniting people against a bigger foe, etc., etc. Vieliessar is really good at everything, just a natural, and that's a good thing because she has lots to do in this book. She's an orphan mage who has to become a warrior, win an army, defeat other armies, become High King and unite everybody against The Endarkened, who are just scary as hell.
There is zero romance in this story, and even though Veiliessar finds she's magically mate bonded to her life-long enemy, it's handled pragmatically because SHE'S GOT STUFF TO DO, GET OUT OF THE WAY. I imagine there might be a hint of tragic romance or something in the next book, because that's gonna get sticky, but I could be wrong. Also, I was impressed at how friendships between men and women were depicted as meaningful and important (awww, Thurion *sigh*).
This book also had a bunch of stuff I'm not crazy about like horses dying every five minutes in terrible ways. The Fortunate Lands are littered with so many horse corpses (also many dead elves). Another thing I wasn't thrilled about - whole book, no dragons. I'm pretty sure the cover says "The Dragon Prophecy" on it.
The battle scenes were pretty incredible, though sometimes weirdly impressionistic. Maybe it's just because I was listening to it rather than reading it, or maybe it was intentional. But y'all, the final battle! Worth 22 hours of audio. I'm really looking forward to the next book. Maybe there will be dragons in that one.
I *loved* the first 6 books in this series. When I stumbled across this latest entry while browsing through Tor's website, I felt like someone who has been told that Christmas is suddenly going to be held the next day. In fact, I tried to order the next book in the trilogy at the same time, but was extremely frustrated to discover that no matter which venue I chose, including several overseas booksellers, I would need to wait until 2014 to receive The House of Four Winds (book 2).
When Crown of Vengeance arrived, I eagerly tore into it. Unfortunately, the book does not in any way live up to its predecessors. Despite my best efforts, I never made a connection to Vieliessar, the main character. Maybe it is because elves were supposed to be more self contained, more aloof - in which case the writing captured this perfectly, as I found myself not really caring what happened to her. I missed the elaborate tea descriptions from the previous 6 books, and I could not help but wonder why everyone was using War Manners (questions allowed, rather than the circumspect "it would make good hearing....." way of speaking that was such an integral part of elven life in the earlier books). I found myself looking forward to the interludes (Endarkened vs. the Light) rather than the actual story. Poor editing didn't help the story's cause - there were several instances of characters dismounting from their destriers multiple times on the same page, and places where elves went from "him" to "her" in the same sentence.
I have still preordered the second book in the series; I'm hoping the dragons will make an appearance in this book, and help save the story. Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory are still one of my favorite author pairs; here's to hoping that this one book (out of 7 now in the story) was just an anomaly, and that the next one is as good as the originals!
Wow! It isn't often I get sucked into a book with the intensity of this one. I couldn't put it down and devoured it. It has the great storytelling one expects from Mercedes Lackey but with a much darker twist which must come from James Mallory. The story of Elves and of magery and of light and dark is compelling. The main character is the Elven Queen Vielissiar Faricarnon and the world of war is fascinating. This books tells the story of the prophecy and how she reclaims the Unicorn throne in preparation to face the Endarkened. There are some interesting characters that you want to get to know.
This is book one of the Dragon Prophecy series, a prequel, which is set in the same world as the Enduring Flame and Obsidian Mountain trilogies which I haven't read but now plan to do so.
This was a little bit hard to get into, but enough of it was interesting that I'm hoping future books in the series will be a little better. The names in this book were alot of times long and hard to remember and the first chapter was a nightmare to wade through long names and term to figure out what was going on. The first part of the book seemed to drag alot when Vieliessar spent a huge amount of time not knowing what to do. The second part was taken up by a lot of battles. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. The book jumps from battle to battle and Vieliessar's "training time" was actually brief and most of the characters of importance in her time at the sanctuary were killed or shuffle off and didn't appear much in the book, so that left very few characters to care about. I am looking forward to see where the book goes from here and more about Vieliessar's bonding.
As someone who has an eleven letter first name; I loathe novels in which every character has ten, twelve or fifteen letter names - especially names that seem like nonsense or three smaller names smashed together with an anvil. Names like this are cumbersome, distracting and useless to the story.
On to the actual story.
Parts of it was like slogging through a river of molasses, other parts moved too quickly and left more questions that will have to be answered in the next novel. I tried to relate to the heroine and hero but found myself liking secondary characters more.
I'm a fan of Lackey and I can see pieces of her writing style within this massive tome but wish there was more of her.
What to say? I typically love Mercedes books. This one I had a really hard time getting through. I don't think the story even got rolling until maybe page 200. I stuck through when typically I would have given up on the book just because of the author. Even once the story did get rolling it was a slow mover. I will have to agree with those who complained about the elf names. I know that those come with a book dealing with elves but there were just so many it made the story have a really hard flow like walking a pebble path instead of smooth grass. I of course will still get the next book but I really really hope it's a lot better than this one.
It was ok, but not nearly as good as the Obsidian trilogy. It started kind of slow but the pace picks up a bit if you power through. It can be confusing until you get the names of the characters all sorted out. If you read it accounting for it being the setup for the trilogy rather than expecting a standalone novel you'll probably appreciate it more. And on that note if you don't like waiting for years for the remaining books of a series/trilogy to be written then don't start reading this one.
First in the prequel trilogy, the Dragon Prophecy Trilogy, in the overall Obsidian Universe series. In this one, we finally meet Vieliessar Farcarinon, who fulfills the prophecy as its Child and prepares her world for invasion.
I suspect the next two will find the Elvenkind at war with the Endarkened and set the stage for the lack of magic in The Outstretched Shadow, the first in the Obsidian Trilogy.
My Take There were aspects of this that were quite thrilling and others that were just annoying. Why do authors feel the need to give us incomprehensible names. Sure, I get that Tom, Dick, and Mary won't cut it, especially in tales about the elves, but names like Bolecthindial and Hamphuliadiel?? I swear, the length of this book could have been cut by at least a quarter if they had used shorter names!
And I'm probably spilling the beans that the side of the Light are Elvenkind...whoops...as Lackey/Mallory certainly don't mention it often. And possibly the reason for this is to portray them as human with all the foibles and weaknesses of man. It's for sure that humanity is not alone is wanting power or being greedy.
Another irritation is the convoluted writing that the authors use to create a sense of old-timeyness, but some of it is so torturous that I can't figure out what is being said no matter how many times I read it.
It certainly does provide a different take on elves than we usually get. This crew is so cruel and stupidly ambitious. It's as though we're getting a peek under the covers of what they're really like! Then there's the other side, the bad guys. The He Who Is, whom I assume is God, is more of an Old Testament God with his cruelty.
There's a bit in here where Lackey/Mallory are telling us of the matching uniforms Vielle has found for everyone in her huge army, and it made me think of Jordan's Mat Cauthon in the Wheel of Time series when he's struggling to find the coin to pay his men and to find the supplies to feed and clothe them. That has such a feel of reality to it. Here, there's no real effort expended or discussed at having to feed and clothe the thousands who flock to her banners. As difficult as events were in this story, Lackey/Mallory doesn't really bring it home.
It's an odd world. One in which men and women are equals, but strict classes of a medieval society exist. Women can be komen and War Princes and are addressed as "Lord", although some are also referred to as "Lady". I haven't figured out what the distinction is yet. War has been turned into a game with rules, like an exaggerated game of three-dimensional chess.
How the current Houses and their nobles treat the lower classes is awful and Vielle finds a very, very powerful tool that will form a cornerstone of her reign. It's the same with the Lightborn who are normally drawn from the lower classes. Once found, a Lightborn is kept for the nobles' use and, it seems, that their families are held hostage for their good behavior. There is so much that Vielle changes and her idea of justice spreads throughout their world, doing quite of bit of the work for her.
I love how Vielle does nothing they expect and drives the Alliance nuts trying to figure her out.
It's just incredible the work Lackey/Mallory have done to create this world. Everything from its geography, history, customs, clothing, manners, beliefs is intricately detailed. It has been a couple years since I read the other two trilogies in the overall series, and what I do remember doesn't really have much to do with this one. The elves in this are so incredibly different from the other two sets that this can stand on its own. I would recommend waiting to start the other two trilogies until you've read the whole of this one, or read them quickly together so as not to lose details.
In spite of my whining, this is a great story. I do suspect that part of my frustration stems from thinking I'm continuing the series since this story is being published after the first two trilogies: Obsidian Trilogy and Enduring Flame and it actually comes before them.
The Story It's a race between the Endarkened and the Brightworld, the elves. Only, the elves don't know the Endarkened exist. The threat they pose. Only Queen Pelashia knew and she could only give hints to her lord to set down in his Song of Amretheion Aradruiniel. It will be up to the Child of Prophecy to save their world.
It's an introduction to the end of House Farcarinon, but Vieliessar's beginning. First in fosterage, then a return to Sanctuary where she learns the truth as well as patience. One hundred years later, as the Child of Prophecy, she seeks the throne that destroyed her father and her House.
Now, if only the Hundred Houses will support this Child as she seeks the throne of the High King.
*snort, guffaw, giggle...collapse and die laughing at the thought that these hidebound, power-hungry, greedy, self-seeking jerks could actually cooperate that long…*
Once both armies are over the mountains into Jaeglenhend, the Alliance destroys any chance they could have at a reconciliation.
The Characters No, it only looks like I listed every character...
Vieliessar "Vielle" Farcarinon was born the day her mother died. The last of the Farcarinons. Lord Serenthon Farcarinon's death, Lady Nataranweiya's Bondmate, has already ensured the Lady's death; it's only her struggle to reach sanctuary to give birth that allows for Vielle's survival. Her family and her House have been destroyed by their own allies: Caerthalien had been their staunchest ally. When they betrayed Serenthon, they joined with Aramenthiali, Telthorelandor, and Cirandeiron and killed or imprisoned anyone who was part of Farcarinon.
Gunedwaen is the now-crippled former Swordmaster to War Prince Serenthon Farcarinon living on Caerthalien charity. He will train Vielle to become a knight and follow her to her destiny. Rithdeliel was Farcarinon's Warlord and now he is Oronviel's.
House Oronviel War Prince Thoromarth is the first to fall to Vielle. Eiron Lightbrother is with his House and refuses Vielle. Princess Nanduil is hostage at Caerthalien. Komens Bethaerian, Diorthiel, and Dirwan are knights of his household. Terandamil Master Ranger musters the commons into infantry.
House Ivrithir: War Prince Atholfol is next. Lord Farathon commands a meisne of komen.
House Araphant: War Prince Luthilion has no heirs; he's outlived them all. Lightbrother Celeharth has been his Mage for long years; he will extort a promise from Vielle.
House Laeldor: The first treacherous House and mostly through its own fear. Vielle uses extreme measures against War Prince Ablenariel, but sends his wife, Ladyholder Gemmaire, home. His son, Prince Culence, is the heir-prince.
House Mangiralas: War Prince Aranviorch is a Less House, and usually safe from war due to its Horse Fair. Heir-Princess Maerengiel is the younger twin; Prince Gatriadde the older. Chief Warlord/Ladyholder Faurilduin is a nasty one. Camaibien Lightbrother aids Gatriadde.
The Uradabhur is a region of 30 Houses in the east Jaeglenhend: War Prince Nilkaran is a nasty bully and his people don't wait to pledge to the High King. Moraigre Lightbrother is his Mage. Princess Telucalmo and Heir-Prince Surieniel are in his besieged Keep.
The Grand Windsward Houses Penenjil: War Prince Melchienchiel has sent his Silver Swords. Enerchelimier: Nantirworiel: War Prince Methothiel may be loyal to the Alliance, but the Foxhaven Free Company, which has been providing its army, is not.
The Lightborn who swear to Vielle Ambrant, Aradreleg, Peryn, Harwing (who hooks up with Gunedwaen), Pharadas, and Isilla. Iardalaith (and he brings House Daroldan) will train her Lightborn to fight: the Warhunt which includes Rondithiel, Bramandrin, Pantaradet, and Jorganroch.
The Free Companies Three of the best Free Companies, mercenaries, are Foxhaven, Glasswall, and Blue Deer. Nadalforo, once First Sword of Stonehorse, pledges to Vielle.
Sanctuary of the Star Thurion is Landbond; Berthon, the son of a knight; and, Athrothir, the son of a castellan, are the others Called from Caerthalien that year that Varuthi/Vieliessar is sent back to the Sanctuary at age 12. Iardalaith had been in training to become a knight before he was Called.
The Astromancer leads the sanctuary and is changed whenever a Vilya tree bears its fruit. Maeredhiel has served for six centuries and was there when Vielle was born; now, she is in charge of the Candidates. Rondithiel Lightbrother is one of her instructors.
Celelioniel was astromancer when Vielle was born; she has dedicated her life to the Song of Amretheion Aradruiniel, a prophecy of a child who will come. Hamphuliadiel is the Lightbrother who becomes astromancer next. An evil one, who changes all the rules. Mosirinde Peacemaker was the first official Lightborn. She set up the rules for them, created the Compact, and established the sanctuary.
House Caerthalien War Prince Bolecthindial was Serenthon's greatest ally. And his greatest betrayer. The vicious and intelligent Ladyholder Glorthiachiel hates and despises all things Farcarinon. Prince Ivrulion is the eldest; he would have been War Prince after his father, but his being Lightborn throws him out of the succession. His son would have been Prince Huthiel. His being Lightborn is why their parents had Prince Runacarendalur. To become War Prince instead, and he's well-suited to the role with his genius at battle tactics. His first encounter with Vielle is a heart-wrenching revelation. Gwaenor is his long-lived horse. Helecanth is the chief of his personal guard. Prince Domcariel is a slow thinker, too slow for battle. Prince Gimragiel is just like his mother, just not as intelligent. Princesses Thorogalas and Angiothiel are their sisters. Carangail Lightbrother is the Lady's personal Mage. Lengiathion is Caerthalien's Warlord.
The Caerthalian Alliance (who distrust and hate each other) Aramenthiali: Lord Manderechiel hates his second wife, Ladyholder Dormorothon who is Caerthalian. Sederet is the Heir-Prince.
Cirandeiron: War Prince Girelrian is old enough to be a great-great-grandmother to her husband, Irindandirion, who is careful to stay out of politics.
Telthorelandor: War Prince Ivaloriel is said to be quite detached whether on the battlefield or ruling his domain. He is bonded to his wife, Ladyholder Edleleorn.
Denegathaiel: War Prince Clacheu.
Sarmiorion: War Prince Ferorthaniel is at the fake parley. Ladyholder Varelotiel joins her husband after he's come over the mountains and leaves her Keep defenseless. The Glasswall Free Company, which refused a contract with her to fight, besieged their castle and plundered it. The commons tried to get shelter or help from their lord and lady's allies and were refused. So they joined Vielle. A lesson for all who play with politics.
Jovadigalas: War Prince Mindingener.
The Endarkened Virulan is their king, First among the Thirteen. And he's as nervous of rebellion as any surface lord! Uralesse is second. Virulan does everything he can to break him, keep him subservient. Rugashag is one of the once-brothers, who becomes Virulan's consort. Shurzul, Khambaug, Bashahk, Dhasgah, Gholak, Lashagan, Marbuglor, Arzhugdu, Nagreloth, and, Orbushnu are the rest of the thirteen. All have but one goal: destroy all life and become the supreme ruler.
The Endarkened are the first race He Who Is created and if you think demon, you've got it about right. There are thirteen of them, at least at the start, and they love to torture, hurt, and destroy. They've been in hiding underground for millennia as they build up their numbers to better destroy those who live on the surface. For He Who Is wants to destroy the Brightworld, bringing the world back to what it was. Perfect. Timeless.
The Hundred Houses are the survivors of the death of the High King with High and Less constantly changing alliances, absorbing some and others breaking out down through the millennia. The Sanctuary of the Star is like a monastery where those with the inner magic, the Lightborn, Pelashia's Children, go to learn how to use their gifts. Candidates are the first level; Postulants are those with a greater magic that needs training. Komen are knights who pledge to a House. Landbonds are like serfs, tied to the land; Farmholders are a step up. Bondmates are soulmates. And fated to die together. The Flower Forests seem to be wells of power from which the Lightborn draw their magic. The Starry Hunt seems to be their idea of god(s). Elvenkind sacrifice to it for victory, for thanks, and in hope of avoiding punishment. the Silver Hooves is another religious entity upon whom they call.
High King Amretheion Aradruiniel was the last, some 10,000 years ago. After his wife, Queen Pelashia Celenthodiel, was ambushed, he went mad and was assassinated. Their children formed an alliance and swore that one of them would be his successor. For some reason, all the other nobles of the time thought the children were tainted, defiled, and they were hunted down and killed. But not all. Arwath and Calebre were two that eluded them. And Vielle is one of their descendants. Celephriandullias-Tildorangelor…*pant, pant, pant, my fingers are wearing out*…is Amretheion's city. Lost for ages.
Vielle's army have named the plains before the city, Ifjalasairaet, wind and dust. They must open the Darariel Dorankalaliel---the Fireheart Gate to gain entrance.
The Cover The cover is a fantasy of war with a lovely sunlit day in the forest overcrowded with an armored horse and his mailed rider leaping over a crowd of men, arrows flying, bloody swords waving.
The title is both personal and prophetic with Vielle taking a reluctant vengeance as she fulfills Amretheion's words and takes the Unicorn throne with a Crown of Vengeance.
I won my copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I enjoyed this book by the end. I found the first few chapters hard to get into, and the Endarkened, the bad guys, were a bit flat for me. They were so entirely evil that they came across as mere caricatures, rather than the sort of evil that orcs and dark elves and trolls often represent. I can at least understand the perspective of orcs, dark elves, evil sorcerers, and trolls, and empathize a tiny bit, but the bad guys in this book aren't really alien or anything, just evil. Perhaps this improves over the course of the series, but I find it hard to imagine the bad guys being able to find mates and reproduce, form alliances, develop lifestyles and values, etc. They'd have to, somehow, for the story to work, but they are portrayed pretty unidimensionally so far. I spent the first half of the book REALLY annoyed at the seemingly dense stupidity of the main character, or at least her lack of curiosity and imagination where current events were concerned. She had to stay ignorant of some things for the story to work as written, perhaps, and she had to develop her talents gradually as the story progressed, maybe, but mostly she just seemed stubborn and slow. The time sense in this book was also at issue. Supposedly she and her fellow lightborn live for centuries, as it keeps being mentioned throughout the book, but the actual passage of time through the story seems still to be just a few years, not centuries, and she still acts like a teenager or early-20's young adult by the end of the book, lacking the sort of wisdom one would expect if she had been alive for decades or a century or more. A lot usually changes in a war-minded society over a century, and yet everything seemed rather stable between her childhood and the end of the book, aside from the changes the main character instigated. Lastly, the names bugged me. They are trying too hard to sound like fantasy novel names. Really. All the extra syllables just got in the way, and even the characters occasionally resorted to shorter, more user-friendly names in conversations. Sure, we have real people with names like Benedict Cumberbatch, so long, complicated-sounding names exist and are used, but in real life Mr. Cumberbatch's name is also fodder for lots of jokes because it is so unwieldy. The actual characters, aside from the bad guys, were well-enough developed, but with such odd, unmemorable names, they became a bit of a muddle in my mind just days after finishing this book. So, while I did enjoy this book by the end, it is not one of my favorite epic fantasy series so far. It has its good points, especially the female roles and the fact that female war princes are usually referred to as princes, not princesses, and they get to learn combat skills and battle tactics alongside all the male war princes. That was refreshing. Far too many epic fantasy novels stuff all the women in pretty dresses, give a few of them magic powers over cute/feminine stuff like fertility, healing and the weather, and then let the men make all the real decisions and hold all the positions of power. And after a few hundred pages I did get into this book enough that I was not just grumbling at it. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes epic fantasy, but I would hold off recommending it to folks new to the genre. It's not terrible by any means, but also not a book I could be sure would hold the attention and interest of less fantasy-enthusiastic readers.
1.5 stars. I'm sorry I had to give it such a low rating, but it deserved it. Also, I don't believe that Lackey had that much to do with this book. Based on books by her that I have read in the past, this does not feel like her writing style. Therefore, I'm of the opinion that this is almost entirely the work of Mallory. What input Lackey had into this, I can't figure out.
So cliche! All your fantasy tropes are there in all their eye rolling glory. You have the "chosen one" of some ancient prophesy who is also the last of her family line and was basically kidnapped upon her birth by her enemies. We've all seen that about a hundred times, and it's okay if you know how to turn it into something unique within itself, but this author did not do that.
The names are atrocious. I HATE books in which the names of people and places are very complicated, to the point you have to stop your reading rhythm to try to sound out a name that is at least 10 letters long, if not longer. I had to shorten or come up with alternative pronunciations for most of the names because I would have been trying to sound them out over and over and over again if I hadn't, no matter how many times I had successfully done it earlier. If there are other authors paying any attention, I beg you, please! Don't give your people and locations insanely long, complicated names. It doesn't make your readers happy!
The main character is a Mary Sue (Google the term if you aren't sure what that is). Nothing ever seems all that difficult for her. She practically has everything she needs land right in her lap. One of the reasons I wonder how much involvement Lackey had with this book is because in another book she wrote herself back in the 90's, when the main character was talking to a secondary character about writing, she critiqued her about how she made everything too easy for her protagonist. This is a prime example of that happening.
This book wants to be Game of Thrones, but it doesn't have the same kick to it. There isn't the same level of character development. In fact, there's basically NO character development. All we get is battle after battle after battle. Booooooring! At least GRRM knows how to balance battle scenes with character development. This author doesn't. I couldn't be arsed to care about any of the characters. If they lived or died didn't make a lick of difference to me.
There are at least two nerdy references in this book that made me roll my eyes. One was a reference to Skyrim's guards, who will sometimes say, "I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee." The wording was changed ever so slightly, but it was basically the same line. The other was a reference to Game of Thrones in which someone tells the main character that they would call her "mother of dragons". Really, guys?
I don't recommend this book to Lackey fans. If you pick this up thinking her name on it has anything to do with the content of the book, let me warn you now that isn't so. Expect it to be the work of that other guy, whose name I've never heard of before this, and expect nothing but a war story that drags on and on and never seems stop.
This is set thousands of years before the Obsidian Trilogy, when elves ruled their world with armoured fists. Where War is a Game, and winner takes all - then gets even more from it's hostages.
Where humanity hasn't even grown yet, and where magic is destined for those who can carry the Light among their peoples.
This story is epic, and tells how the elves went from fighting among themselves, to having everything change for them all, forever - and how one elf, Vieliessar Farcarinon, is the cause.
She is born just as her mother dies, and her father was already dead by the treachery of his friends, but she is destined by birth to throw down the Hundred Houses, and unite all of her people under her rule, as the High King.
This has to be done, as soon as she is able to do so, as a great Darkness is almost upon them all - a Darkness that, if they are not united as one, could sweep them all away, so that Darkness will kill everything of the Light in their world.
In this first book, Vieliessar gains allies, and deadly enemies but, after countless battles, and too many losses to count, she finds both her spirit bonded, who is also her deadliest foe, but also finally finds the place where she can join her people together as one, and start to build up her nation, to get ready for when Darkness comes.
I loved this! It's so reminiscent of the stories I read in my youth, where battles were long and costly, both in lives and plunder, and where there was a goal that is bigger than the people taking part.
I really hope this keeps up in the following two books, as I really want to be blown away again, by this story's unfolding!
Crown of Vengeance is at times thrilling, well executed, and even inspired. Well realized characters fill the pages, and excellent action escalates to a thrilling climax. There is deep lore to be explored, and a wonderful character arc for our protagonist.
I wanted to give this book four stars instead of 3, but I couldn't bring myself to overlook the constant annoyance that was the NAMES. What could have been a really enjoyable read for me, turned into an unrelenting wish that the authors would dial back the complexity of the names here. I will give some examples to allow others to see what we're dealing with here, try to say some of these out loud if you dare: Aralhathumindrion, Niothramangh, Dorankalaliel, Janglanipaikharain, Ferorthanial Sarmiorion, Runacarendalur, Mindingener Jovadigalas, Tilinaparanwira, Celephriandullias-Tildorangelor.
As you can see, these absolute monsters to try and read, and gods forbid I try to say them out loud. I really enjoyed the journey of the main characters, but I could not get over the ridiculously convoluted naming these authors chose to employ. Some of the names have TEN syllables!
Overall, it's a good book with a deep history, interesting magic, rich characters, excellent drama and thrilling battles. Unfortunately, I would equate this reading experience succinctly to this - It's like watching a pretty good movie in a very uncomfortable chair.
Normally I wouldn't review a book after simply reading the prologue, but I'm making an exception in this case. I do enjoy a fun Mercedes Lackey novel but Crown of Vengeance starts out with Luciferian propaganda. The whole Obsidian Universe is set up with an evil (so to speak) Creator called, "He Who Is" and his first created being (a sub-creating being of Light). "Light" is appalled that He Who Is (consumed with regret of creation) wants to destroy it. Light then creates beings (humans?) too prolific to destroy. A representative of He Who Is - a demon king, is frustrated by not being able to destroy them all, and commits to out-smarting then instead.
I should have known this book would be overly brutal in keeping with the Lackey/Mallory pairing style. I might have given up on it for that reason alone (who knows?). I'm not a prude but my conscience just won't put up with the blasphemy. I will just stick with her other, lighter serieses, such as Enchanted Kingdoms, Fairytales, and Heralds.
I was going to make a joke about the name getting you most of the way to Fantasy Title Bingo, but it actually wouldn't feel like a joke. Based on other reviews I knew that this book was a bit polarizing, so I didn't expect it to be so generic.
There are a lot of fantasy tropes played so straight that I was honestly surprised there was no big twist. A Chosen One who is better than everyone at everything. The enemy is Darkness that is irredeemable evil. The D&D fantasy races. Words like "month" replaced with things like "moonturn."
The beginning is the worst part, jumping between unnecessary POVs and not giving you anything to focus on. It picks up after that, but only in the sense of pacing. I enjoyed the military tactics, but the book doesn't give you very much else. For such a long book, there wasn't really all that much plot and there were very few characters that got any real detail.
6.5/10 This is a long book with many characters who have mostly unpronounceable names (and no helpful list of characters) who live in kingdoms that also have unpronounceable names (but at least there is a map). There are old enemies and new, obscure prophecies, and more battles than I can remember.
And of course, the whole book is merely a prelude to the “real” battle between the Endarkened and the Elves, which I assume happens in the next book.
On a positive note, the battles are realistic in many ways, emphasizing how chaotic they are and the importance of things like supply lines, food and forage for people and animals, and the large numbers of support personnel an army requires. Leaders make mistakes, luck and weather are fickle, and sometimes small things really do make a difference (you know, for want of a nail…).
Many of the characters are well-drawn but other than Vieliessar, it’s difficult to feel like the reader really gets to know and care about them.