Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts
Welcome to the blog's very first post. I'm excited to begin our discoveries with one of my new favorite series. I know I'm starting this blog off right away with a book rather than a formal introduction, but I figured it was better this way. Otherwise, I'll just rant on and on about who I am and why I'm doing this. Don't worry, we'll get there eventually (Maybe eventually.) Until then, I thought it was only appropriate we discuss our interests. Why not start with the books I've been reading for fun in my spare time?
I first started reading Janny Wurts series, Wars of Light and Shadow, a few years back when I found it in my town library. It just sounded so interesting to me. Ever since I read the start of the series, I've been hooked. It's unique, beautiful and complicated. I was lucky enough to have started on the first book as well, which is a must if you're to enjoy it fully. Admittedly, the books aren't for everyone. It's not a casual read that you could sit back and relax with. No, this one begs you to pay attention and invest in the story, and it's all worth it if the idea interests you to begin with.
Janny Wurts descriptions, while lengthy, are gorgeous and inspirational. The books are full of complicated magic, flowing music, deep, realistic personalities, and tense political drama. Let me just add, I don't care much for politics or drama myself, but I can't help it! I'm really drawn into this series.
The books were written back in the nineties, and it seemed like they were quite popular. However, I feel like they're hidden gems nowadays. I've never heard of it before I discovered the books in my library, and everybody I talk to doesn't seem to know about it either. It's really underrated though. It deserves more attention.
The first book is called Curse of the Mistwraith. It centers on two half-brothers, Arithon s'Ffalenn and Lysaer s'Ilessid. They are natural born enemies who end up trapped together in a different world called Athera. The world has been under a permanent mist for many years and generations. The residents don't even know what the sun looks like. The plants are weak and decaying under Desh-thiere's,(the Mistwraith's,) magical mist. The two half-brothers must use the magical powers they inherited from birth to chase the mist away from the land.
The two princes struggle against their differences as they also face the threats on both the land and their mental sanity after losing contact with their homeland forever. Despite the journey through the worldsend gate, these princes carry the blood of ancestors who visited the land before. The readers of the first book will witness the rise of the two kingdoms to these bloodlines. The kingdom of Rathian belongs to Arithon s'Ffalenn, and the kingdom of Tysan belongs to Lysaer s'Ilessid.
I won't include too much information about the book in the case that you may want to read it yourself, but the mist slowly begins to manipulate both of the princes by using the hate they have for each other against themselves. This makes a lot of the battles they face very frustrating. Their supporters and new friends try all they can, but are unable to prevent a lot of the damage.
This is a challenge on even the Fellowship of Seven, wizards of the old age who are immortal and wise. Even the powerful sage trope is challenged in this book! I thought everything would be safe with them around, but they only provide me with a false sense of security. They know what's going on for the most part, but are considerably weaker than they used to be ever since they lost three of their members before the events of the first book. Two of them have passed away, but they continue to roam with the others as ghosts. These two, called Luhaine and Kharadmon, can be hilarious when they show up, especially when they're together. The book is pretty serious, so I hesitate to call them the comic relief, but I did get a few laughs from them. The third wizard they lost is still yet to be found. He left many years ago in search of ancient races who also disappeared from their world.
Asandir, one of the fellowship wizards, joins the princes on their quests with his bumbling apprentice, Dakar. Dakar is a pretty cool and funny character as well, though he can be quite a mess sometimes. He can occasionally catch a glimpse of the future, though this doesn't make their quests any easier. While he is quite a mess of a character, he does develop into an amazing character later on.
I love the characters. Arithon is the Master of Shadow, and Lysaer is Lord of the Light, but this doesn't mean one is evil and the other isn't. Janny Wurts uses this to make the reader think one is worse than the other, but she writes it in a way where you must pick a side to stand by yourself. She states the facts of the characters and their desires, and yet she doesn't tell you which one you should root for. The story is full of twists and turns. I am often surprised by what I find out as I continue reading. Arithon is actually a really good character too! I have to say he's my favorite.
This book doesn't linger on the trope of enemies working together for too long, but it was one of the many things that took my attention. One of my most favorite tools in writing, or even stories in general, is character development. Being forced to work with a foe is the best opportunity to pick up amazing character changes and overall traits! Like I said though. It's not a theme for long, but now I'm attached to what the book brought me. The Curse of the Mistwraith woke me up with a start of action before dunking me down in tense history and delightful characters, messy or not. Sometimes the books stress me out enough that I wonder why I continue being a prisoner to this series, even though I just can't put it down. I love the pain in the books, even though it hurts me at the same time. Emotion is such a funny thing.
I would totally recommend this book to anyone who likes serious magical consequences and deep characters with emotional strains and troubles. Definitely start with the first book though. Things get complicated really fast even if you've been reading them in order. If you see them anywhere, be sure to stop and take a look. In the meantime, can you think of any amazing and underrated books? Let me know below!
Disclosure: The books and their artwork belong to HarperVoyager.