Long ago, in the magical holocaust known as the Mage Wars, the immortal Fey and their allies fought to defeat the grasping evil of the Elden Mages and their dark-gifted supporters. During those wars, in a fit of grief-induced madness caused by the death of his mate, Fey shapeshifter Rain Tairen Soul nearly destroyed the world in a blaze of tairen fire.
Now, a thousand years later, the fierce Fey king must fight to save his race from the brink of extinction and once again stop the evil rising in the homeland of his enemies, the Eld. The key to his success lies in the mortal city of Celieria, where the Mage Wars began, and with a young woman whose soul sings to him in ways no woman’s ever has, whose presence reawakens the primal fury of the tairen within his soul, and whose vast, untapped power can either save or destroy him and his people.
This is not going to be a review in my usual format. I am taking the I’ll start and wing it method again because there is so much in my head I want to write about this book, it’s bursting out and not in a methodically and structured manner. Reviews of some books aren’t meant to be crammed into structure and formats and LORD OF THE FADING LANDS is definitely one of those books.
Where and how to begin? Let’s start at the beginning and by saying that this was one of the most impressive reading experiences I’ve had this year, positively as well as negatively. I chose this book as part of my reading challenge because preceding the release of LORD OF THE FADING LANDS back in 2007 an amazing C.L. Wilson buzz began and even I, a non-Fantasy reader, felt the compelling need to buy the book.
Then, after the raving reviews all around, I did with C.L. Wilson what I do with most authors I buy one book from, I bought every new book upon release and shelved it neatly with the others, thus adding three unread books to the immense TBR-pile. These new books in the series came out, were read and reviewed by fellow ROOB-reviewers and members of the ROOB forum and I heard nothing but praise and read nothing but raving reviews. When compiling the reading challenge list of course C.L. Wilson could not be missing on it, so I gave it the August slot. Then August came and since in July I cut it real close with the challenge book and review I decided to start early with LORD OF THE FADING LANDS, giving me time to read and review at ease and without end of the month-deadline pressure. Little did I know how visionary that would turn out to be.
I started reading LORD OF THE FADING LANDS August 15th and finished it today (August 31st). And I read the last 200 pages in the last 3 days, so I spent almost 2 weeks reading the first half of the book. I just couldn’t get into the story and for the life of me couldn’t pinpoint why. Because I loved the sweet but fiery Celierian woodcarver’s daughter Ellysetta Baristani and I melted for the awe-inspiring Rainier vel’En Daris, the powerful Tairen Soul and Fey King of the Fading Lands. I was endeared and moved by Ellie’s parents and sisters, impressed by Ellie’s quintet, especially by Bel and Kieran and I was repelled by the Eld High Mage and his apprentice Kolis Manza. These are all good things to feel when I’m reading but still something was preventing me from enjoying the book the way I wanted to.
After finishing the book I now know exactly what it was. There were two things and they are connected. It was the pace and the descriptive lyrical, at times flowery, writing style of C.L. Wilson. Add to that the unknown fantasy terms and names and I really felt lost at the beginning, wondering what I had done by wanting to read this book, knowing I am not a fan of fantasy. I kept flipping to the glossary in the back to know what the terms I was reading meant and believe me that is not good when you already are having problems with the pace. Every time I stopped reading I’d be reluctant to pick the book up again because I knew I would have to wade through the descriptions again to get to the good stuff (dialogues and action).
This definitely wasn’t an easy read for me. When a story grips you it doesn’t matter if it’s easy to read or not but as I was having trouble getting in the story and trying to grasp the world, it made it even harder because of what I stated above. Sometimes I would get sucked into the extensive and distracting descriptions of almost everything (people, scenery, events, actions etc.), making the pace so slow it took me more than a week to get through the first 100 pages! But I hung in there and I am so very glad that I did, because somewhere after page 150 I finally got what I wanted from the book! The intriguing world building, the wonderful dialogues and the beautiful emotions were there the first half of the book too but it wasn’t until the second half, when a lot of things started to fall into place that I could stop being distracted by the descriptions that were still there and fully enjoy the sweet, beautiful and lyrical story of Ellie and Rain.
If there is one thing I learned from reading this book, it is that Fantasy is not and probably will never be a genre I favor and the little quantity of Fantasy books (be it romance or non-romance) on my shelves proves this. Nonetheless, C.L. Wilson will remain on my shelves because with the second half of LORD OF THE FADING LANDS she has convinced me that Tairen Soul series is most certainly worth the effort. I will definitely be reading the next books in this series because I am dying to know what will happen to Ellie, Rain, the Fey, the Eld and how certain intriguing things will unravel.
She was so young, so incredibly new to the world and to him, and yet regardless of the cost to his soul, Rain would destroy anyone and anything that dared to stand between them. And if any dared to harm her, he would shred them without mercy and dance as he drank their blood.
“Rain has given you his magic, kem’falla, the essence of himself. An eternal fivefold weave of it, embraced forever in a fragile Celierian-made vessel. Strength wedded to vulnerability, magic to mortal craft, him to you. It sings so many different songs. It is a very fine gift, indeed.” Bel turned his shining gaze upon Ellysetta. “And you, kem’falla, are the greatest gift of all. You breathe life back into the dying ember of our king’s soul.”
Respect for his pride kept her silent. Battered and bruised, but still fighting for dominance, his was not the selfish, petty pride that made bullies of lesser men, but rather the quiet, determined dignity that turned men into heroes and made heroes crawl back to their feet from the bitter dust of defeat and stand tall once more. She dare not take that from him.