Ossus Library Index Fantasy Index

SHADOW DAWN

A novel by Chris Claremont and George Lucas (1997, Bantam)
Book 2 of the Chronicles of the Shadow War

Elora learns of the Deceiver's power, while being sheltered by Thorn. She takes on the persona of a troubadour and gives hope to the people she meets.

 

 

3 stars

Read November 23rd to December 19th, 2015  
    While the writing is still so rich and complicated in description that it is difficult to read, it is easier than the first book, and the characters are much more interesting. I liked the way Elora has changed, to become a strong young woman, which made her interactions with the other realms fun to read about.

Spoiler review:

The biggest problem that I had with the first book in this series, Shadow Moon, was the difficulty of the writing style. The author went to such great lengths to write about almost nothing in a huge number of words, and it took forever, for example, for Thorn to reach Elora. When he did finally sneak in to see her, she was a very unlikable character. That has changed in this book, and it is all for the better. The writing is still difficult, but much easier than in the first one. It still takes forever for the author to describe a scenario, but at least there are many things going on, so he does manage to get from one place and action to another.

And Elora is by far the best thing about this book. She is still learning, but she has grown into a hard worker, who never shuns at anything that needs to be done. She now has an instinct, too, which serves her well time and again. I loved the way she thought about magic, even though she couldn’t wield it, and how her power was so raw. The only thing that I didn't really like was the way she referenced how she would have reacted to a situation in her old self.

The book starts in a Nelwyn forge, where Elora was placed by Thorn so that she could learn how to be strong, both in physique and in character. She has bonded with the people there, but she feels trapped, and so leaves –inadvertently, as she responds to a crisis within the mountain. That moment is important in her development, but comes out of nowhere, as she follows a baby fire drake to its imprisoned mother, who are being used to create a world gate, a link to the other realms, which will allow a monster to enter and destroy the Nelwyn dwellings. While she succeeds, it is at a cost to her and the fire drakes, and they escape into the sea of magma deep below the planet’s crust. This was a strange part of the book, but it did give us more clues to Elora’s raw ability. She surfaces into a peaceful glade with a lake, surrounded by mountains.

Of course, the glade is inhabited by a Troll… This is the point at which Elora changes from a princess of the world to a princess of the people. She wants to help people, even if they don’t know they need help. In this case, the Troll does know, and once Elora escapes from its attack, she follows it and finds the sick baby troll, which she nurses back to health.

Through the rest of the book, Elora serves the people, first as a healer, as with Duguay, the ghosts in the massacred village, Ren, and others. But she also develops into a deliverer of hope, as she learns how to sing and dance and entertain from Duguay, the mysterious man that even the two brownies can’t read. I find it strange that the most exciting parts of the book were Elora’s songs and dances; they mesmerized the audience and the reader, and were more effective than the action sequences.

Eventually, she makes a pact with Lesser Fairy, fights away Greater Faery (along with Anakerie, who decides to flee the Maizan), refuses a deal with the Malevoiy (who want to take over the world), and kills off all the dragons (the result of them often intruding into her dreams). The last part is a key to the end, because the Deceiver wants to control the dragons so that she can control all peoples, so that they can only dream what she wants them to, and therefore to have an ordered and peaceful world. Yes “she”, because the Deceiver is actually Elora Danan, from an alternate timeline, one in which she grew up to be a ruler, and in which she could not achieve peace as she was supposed to do –so she decided on another way: peace by terror! This is a scary alternative, and it makes me think of how peace might be an unachievable dream, as long as free will exists.

Duguay I remembered as being one of the Malevoiy, whose alternate name is Lord of the Dance. His partner of course is Elora, and they pair up wonderfully. So much that he takes the dance to the Deceiver (also Elora), which distracts her enough that the Elora we know can kill all of the dragons. While the Deceiver leaves in a rage, Elora collects two dragon eggs that she can hopefully use to reignite the dreams.

The book takes place essentially in 6 locations, all of which have meaning. The Nelwyn forge was where Elora was forged, too. The Troll’s glade was where she began to realize her potential. The village that was attacked by Greater Fairy provided her with her first healing dance, allowing her contact with spirits, and of course Duguay. When Elora, Duguay and the eagle Bastian, and the brownie Rool get to the Fort, Elora blooms and becomes the person who can manipulate others. When Ren is taken by the Maizan, she follows to an ancient line of power, where she battles the Maizan witch, earns the loyalty of Lesser Fairy, and returns in her dreams to see the dragons. Finally, in the Chengwei capital she settles down near Thorn, and continues her manipulation of people, including Anakerie, until she discovers her destiny, visiting two more realms in the process. She also starts to feel romantic love.

Finally, the characters were all fun and well-developed. As always, I especially enjoyed anytime the brownies showed up.

As the middle book in the trilogy, the novel does a good job in propelling the story forward, even when it seems like we are waiting an interminable amount of time for something to happen –because while we are waiting, Elora is growing –growing up, growing into her abilities, and beginning to understand what she has to do, even if she doesn’t realize it at this point.
 

 

3 stars

Read June 30th to July 11th, 1997  
    It was hard to rate this book.  I loved the beginning, and most of the middle, for it was packed with action, passion and all sorts of other stuff.  You could really see Elora growing up.  And it was detailed in every description.  But I didn't understand the ending, except the last few paragraphs.  It'll take the third book, with its flashbacks, I think, to figure it out.  Much better than the first one, though.  
   

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