Review of “The Sea King” (Weathermages of Mystral #2) by C.L. Wilson

Wilson, C.L. The Sea King. New York: Avon Books, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-201898-4. Print List Price: $7.99.

5 stars

Apologies for not posting for almost a week. But between working on my novel for NanoWriMo and some of my school projects, as well as the fact that this book is a literal bug-cruncher, I fell behind on posting.

But this book was a page-turner, and well worth the wait (The Winter King was first published in 2014, I read it in 2016). And I daresay, this book is better than the first.

For one, there’s Dilys. I like that he proves he can be a strong hero, but also can wear his heart on his sleeve, something that I’m glad we’re seeing a bit more of in romance heroes. And while a lot of the story is serious, and even dark and somewhat disturbing in places, some aspects of his courtship with Gabriella, especially in the early days, when she rebuffs him are incredibly comical.

As for Gabriella, I can see why she might be hard to like for some, as she is prickly at first. But I found her arc very compelling, and I really enjoyed her journey to discovering who she really is, along with learning that she can have love in her life without fear of ending up like her father.

I would also like to commend Wilson for including diversity among prominent characters within her fantasy world. It is uncommon to see people of color in major roles in this genre, and while it’s easy to pass it off as being “pure fantasy,” or saying that because the story’s fictional realm is based on a European locale and time period, as has been the case with fantasy series like Game of ThronesWilson does something different by actually putting in the work to diversify her cast and the types of locales depicted.

Review of “Crown of Crystal Flame” (Tairen Soul #5) by C.L. Wilson

Wilson, C.L. Crown of Crystal Flame. New York: Avon Books: 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-201896-0. Print List Price: $7,99.

5 stars

It is rare that I go through a series and find almost nothing to disappoint me, but that was the case with this one. And this one is definitely a fitting conclusion to a wonderful series. While our heroes and their allies have been tested and tortured over the course of the series, with a few devastating losses, it’s satisfying to see the villains finally get their just deserts.

When starting the series, I did not expect to love, or even feel pity for Annoura, as she opposed the Fey at every turn. But my heart softened toward her a bit during the last book, when I saw how the thought of losing her husband would hurt her, and when it comes to pass, without him getting a chance to make peace with her, my heart ached. And the moment when she finally reads his letter to her might just be one of the sweetest moments of the entire series.

 

Review of “Queen of Song and Souls” (Tairen Soul #4) by C.L. Wilson

Wilson, C.L. Queen of Song and Souls. 2009. New York: Avon Books, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-202299-8. Print List Price: $7.99.

5 stars

It’s very rare for me to close a book feeling shocked, mostly due to the fact that despite most the claim that romance isn’t formulaic, the promise of a happy ending for the main characters prevents disappointment.

But as this is the first romance series I have invested in where the HEA between the central couple is not won at the end of a single book, and carries over the entire series, along with dealing with a number of connected subplots, I found myself being taken off guard when this book ended by concluding the “Romeo and Juliet” subplot first set up back in Lady of Light and Shadows with a fittingly tragic ending that left me breathless as I finished reading. When Wilson said in an interview about these books that she “broke all the rules,” she was not kidding!

And as much as I adored spending more time in the Fading Lands and Eld in the previous book, I enjoyed returning to Celieria and seeing how the political situation is worsening there.  I find the story much more interesting when the focus is just as much on the dichotomy between the mortal world and the realms of magic, as it is on that between the Fey and Eld.

Review of “King of Sword and Sky” (Tairen Soul #3) by C.L. Wilson

Wilson, C.L. King of Sword and Sky. 2008. New York: Avon Books, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-202300-1. Print List Price: $7.99.

5 stars

When I initially picked up the series from the library, I was perplexed to see they classified the series as fantasy, complete with the Fantasy genre tag, when the books are not only distributed by a romance publisher, they clearly note that they are paranormal romance. But while the romance was definitely a huge part of the first two books, and remains a strong component, the epic scale of both this book and the series overall had me questioning the author’s choices when selecting her publishers, especially with genre classification used as a form of marketing, and her books are cross-genre works which don’t entirely fit as one or the other. But I will save a further discussion into genre and marketing for another day, as we need to talk about this book.

Because this is yet another amazing installment in the series. Despite the shift in setting, with Ellysetta, Rain, and their party returning to the Fading Lands, there is just as much to keep them occupied and test them. I admired Ellie’s character development, particularly when she goes against the Fey law against weaving Azrahn to save the tairen kitlings, leaving her vulnerable to further exposure to the High Mage. And it was sweet that Rain joined her as well, and that we see how her birth parents were still connected with her and able to aid her, despite the long separation and their being in captivity under the High Mage.

Something else I thought was really cool was the inclusion of readers’ poetry at the beginning of some of the chapters. Short poems have been a staple of the series since the beginning, providing a greater sense of the mythos of this world, but it is wonderful to see that Wilson opened up her world to reader contributions, and allowed them to fulfill the dream of many to see their work in a published book.

Review of “Lady of Light and Shadows” (Tairen Soul #2) by C.L. Wilson

Wilson, C.L. Lady of Light and Shadows. 2007. New York: Avon Books, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-202301-8. Print List Price: $7.99.

5 stars

When Wilson first submitted the series for publication, this and the first book were one long book, which were split in two, and you can tell, as it the two books obviously take the form of one story, with Rain and Ellie falling in love and Ellie discovering the secrets about her past. But the split is done well, with the first book establishing the world and the romance as well as Rain’s character, and this one providing insight into Ellie’s past, something that was only alluded to a bit in the first book.

Wilson expands on the great cast of characters, showing some development in the returning characters as well as introducing some new ones. My favorite new addition is Gaelen, who was a dahl’reisen (“lost soul” previously banished from the Fading Lands), but was saved by Ellie’s magic. He is incredibly funny, but more importantly, he is proof that while many of the characters, both mortal and Fey, see the world as black and white, good or evil, and a certain type of magic has been deemed as “evil,” that it is about the way you use it that matters.

This book is much darker than the previous one, with the Mages coming to claim Ellie. One of the darkest moments was the “exorcism,” and this was a moment where I really wanted to hate the mother and Selianne, for being so gullible. But the mother’s reaction very much reflects the attitude toward magic toward magic throughout history, and I did feel at the end she did the right thing.

 

 

Review of “Lord of the Fading Lands” (Tairen Soul #1) by C.L. Wilson

Pause in the MacLean-a-thon! I will try to read the rest of her books by around next weeks when Day of the Duchess releases, but I got these from the library a few days ago and could not wait to read them.

Wilson, C.L. Lord of the Fading Lands. 2007. Avon Books, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-202302-5. Print List Price: $7.99.

5 stars

C.L. Wilson is an author I discovered a while back when I picked up her last release, 2014’s The Winter King out of curiosity, due to my interest in fantasy romances. Having loved that one, I decided to check out her previous series, and I adored this one just as much.

The basic premise is not an original one, as “ordinary girl falls for wealthy and/or powerful guy” is a trope that has been explored by the likes of Twilight, Fifty Shades, and many other romances across subgenres, but this one spices it up by giving the heroine, Ellie a secret past that she only begins to unravel by the end of this book, as well as powers of her own that make her a fitting equal to Rain Tairen Soul.

I have often complained about the over-saturation of alpha heroes in romance novels, but I feel like this novel has a situation in which this type of hero works. While the story is set in a purely fictional world, the lifestyle of the people of Celieria mimics traditions of people from actual history, and Rain has lived for over a thousand years, and dealt with war, which was the cause of the death of his previous mate, and there is a constant battle with his more animalistic tairen instincts, as that side of him yearns for his truemate.

I also love Wilson fleshes out the secondary characters, devoting portions of the story to them, keeping the story equally balanced between the fantasy and romance aspects. And she doesn’t shy away from depicting some pretty dark stuff, like rape and the use of drugs as a means to this end, as well as how the villains of the story are trying to influence the Celierian royals to side with them instead of the Fey.