Book Review: Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory

Posted December 24, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Pages: 608
Publisher: Tor Books
Review source: Library
Rating: 4
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Series: Dragon Prophecy, 1
            Obsidian Universe (the overall series), Trilogy 1

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.
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.

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