I was on the fence for a long time about the rating for this book.
Two thirds of the way through it, my spirit was so light, the book was
so beautiful, that I wondered what I had missed in the first two books.
Near the end, the descriptions of magic fell short for me, though they
were still powerful. And there are many questions that I would
have liked to be answered. After much thought, I decided that the
beginning of the book was beautiful enough to warrant the five star
rating, despite the weakness near the end. The conclusion was
great, even though I had to read it three times to catch all of it.
The last chapter, sort of an epilogue, seemed unnecessary.
The book begins the moment after Shadow
Dawn ended. Thorn, Elora and Khory are alone in the realm of
the dragons after Elora was forced to slay all the dragons to keep them
from the power of the Deceiver. But the Deceiver revealed to Elora
its true identity, Elora from the future. Eventually, all three of
them, and more, gain this knowledge, and I can't even begin to figure out
how. As in Shadow Moon, there were times
that I thought I had missed an entire chapter, because it was left completely
untouched how people made some of the realizations that they did.
Elora, Thorn and the warrior Khory wrap the two remaining dragon's
eggs in a spell to keep them safe, then they leave. They are chased
through the realm of the Malevoiy, whom we met in the last book, and they
try and tempt Elora to become one of them, thus delivering the world into
their hands, once again.
For a long age ago, they ruled the world, all twelve realms.
But the world goes through changes, and Elora discovered that the world
passes through what she termed Celestial Magus Points, where the world
could be influenced by the actions of one person. Last time, Khory
was alive, and she was the ultimate weapon against the Malevoiy.
She was on the cusp of defeating them, when her commander betrayed her,
creating peace. But the world remembered the betrayal, and that is
what shaped the world that Elora lives in. As a result, the Malevoiy
were somehow banished to their own realm forever, where they are shadows.
In that realm, Elora is mortally wounded, by an arrow through
the lung. Khory fights her way through to the door between realms,
and successfully brings Elora back to the Sandeni Fort called Tregare.
This is the very best part of the book. Elora heals herself, though
she has to go into a coma and face the Malevoiy again to do so. When
she awakens, she and Thorn discover that the nation of Chengwei is launching
an attack on Sandeni and Tregare, and she bolsters the defences to defend
Her dream was very real, and the description of it was awe-inspiring.
The spirit-walk when she was in the bath took a little bit of getting used
to, and the Caliban was a concept that I didn't think needed to be introduced.
By the end, though, I realized the need, but I still can't understand the
transformation. The Caliban turns out to be the King who betrayed
Khory to the Malevoiy, and they get to do battle to the death at the book's
But the absolute best part of the book was Elora's song to rally
the troops. The Chengwei attacked in four waves. The first
wave was in disguise, but Elora discovered that they were only pretending
to be the Tregare scouting party. It took a while for the fort to
awaken, but they managed to kill all of that wave. The second wave
was a slaughter, as rank upon rank of Chengwei fell to fire from the fort,
used to determine what kind of defences the fort had.
The third wave was an all out battle, but was saved by Thorn
and Khory, as they found a couple of ogres, and led them to decimate the
Chengwei camp. And the fourth wave was an all out siege, using a
weapon that disrupts magic.
Between the second and the third waves, Elora did what she discovered
that she does best in the last book. She danced, and sang.
And for four lovely and wonderful pages, the author describes a song that
touched the whole army, the whole fort, and brought their spirits up, and
readied them for the battle ahead. There are no lyrics presented,
only emotions, and feelings. The song inspired, and I was incredibly
Her dance to open the gate between her realm and Lesser Faery
was no less intricate. She led all the people who weren't fighting
through to that land, and to Sandeni, across utopian fields tended by faeries
and other magic creatures. And for the first time in memory, an elf
danced with a man.
In Sandeni, Elora hides out at the house of a scribe, where she
learns more about the magus points, and tries to learn the weaknesses of
the Caliban and the Deceiver. Meanwhile, Tregare falls to the Chengwei.
The Caliban attacks, and tries to kidnap Elora, succeeding only in kidnapping
another royal figure.
Elora escapes the city once more, and returns to the fort, in
search of Thorn and her love, Luc-Jon. She frees the fort single-handedly,
persuading fire-drakes to reduce its walls to cinders, and demoralizing
the enemy forces. They were so scared that the attack on Sandeni
Elora then took Luc-Jon, Khory and the brownies through the bowels
of the Earth to the Chengwei city where Thorn was being held. This
is where the tone of the book changed, and I don't think it was truly successful
in telling the story. Large chunks seemed to be missing, and other
things seemed way too easy.
Thorn is actually helping the Chengwei sorcerers build a larger
magic-disrupting device, similar to the one that defeated Tregare.
Elora enters the magical palace to free him, but is trapped inside.
She doesn't seem to mind, though, and they go to a banquet designed to
show off the newly finished device.
The Deceiver arrives, however, and the device is activated, turning
the palace into a chaotic mess, which is how I would also describe this
chapter. The sorcerers attempt to control the device while also fighting
the Deceiver. The Caliban enters the fray. Thorn and Khory
try to keep each other alive.
But one spell goes awry, as the Deceiver sends poison gas towards
some sorcerers, Elora gets in the way, and she dies. But between
life and death, the Malevoiy await. And she seizes the chance for
life by fusing them with herself. And in a very wicked sequence which
transforms that chapter from a mess into a jewel, Elora turns into a Malevoiy.
Unfortunately, Elora is much less interesting as a Malevoiy.
She and the Deceiver fight almost endlessly, but everybody has to escape
the magical cascade that is about to consume not only the sorcerer's palace,
but the entire Chengwei city!
The escape is chaotic, but the chapter is thankfully well told.
I can't figure out how Thorn's friend ends up piloting the ship they leave
on, but I guess I can forgive it. The escape from the city is stressful,
especially since Thorn can't forgive himself for leaving Elora behind,
especially as Malevoiy. But he puts it past him for a while, as he
designs a new machine, and sends out instructions, by way of magic, to
his kin and the elves. The Chengwei city falls, as the realm of Earth
swallows it. The rest of the Chengwei empire is virtually ruined,
at least for the foreseeable future.
The last chapter was brilliant. All is revealed here, though
there were annoying questions left behind. Elora and the Deceiver
make their way back to the frozen city of Angwyn, where this all started
in Shadow Moon. Elora passes the (still
frozen) delegation that was supposed to watch her ascension to Queen of
the twelve realms, and it makes her pause, even though she is almost completely
Malevoiy. She passes the king of Greater Faery, and the queen of
Lesser Faery, the leader of the Dragons (in his frozen form), whom she
slew in their realm. And she notices the missing delegation; the
Malevoiy were not invited. The Deceiver awaits, and they begin to
fight once again.
Thorn and his company make their way to the fortress of Nockmaar,
where the entire story took place, where Elora was born in the movie Willow,
and where she nearly died as an infant. Thorn meets his kin, and
puts together the machine, then activates it. A portal is opened
between Nockmaar and Angwyn, the two strongest points of magic in the world.
And they watch as Khory enters the room and kills Elora the Malevoiy.
Elora dies again, and the portal brings her body, along with Khory and
the Deceiver, to Nockmaar.
The device also opened a door for the Malevoiy to reenter the
world. As they attack, Elora comes back to life as herself, shedding
the shell that had become her outer body for a time.
As the Malevoiy regroup, the Caliban enters the room. The
machine strips him of all his magical disguises, though, and reveals his
true identity. Khory and him fight. Of course, Khory wins,
but only because she is part demon.
Elora joins with the Deceiver, who has given in to despair, and
learns what drove her to do what she has been doing. She lived a
perfect life, Ascended to Queen, and tried to rule the realms. But
she saw deceit at every turn, and eventually exterminated all the realms,
including the Malevoiy and the dragons. Elora shows her the way to
hope, and they release the dragon egg, giving birth to a new generation
Elora realizes that she was not meant to rule the Twelve realms,
but to give them hope, to persuade them to work together. For her
gift is not magic as others understand it. She persuades the magical
elements to work, instead of trying to command them. And the same
works with the world. The dragon fire reduces Nockmaar to a shiny
plate of molten rock, eliminating the Malevoiy threat, leaving flowers
in the middle that seem to resemble the heroes.
It was revealed that Bavmorda (the villain in Willow) started
a spell of banishment that would have disintegrated Elora's soul.
But the spell was never finished, and so it created two versions of the
future, and especially, two Eloras. It was also revealed in a terrific
sequence by the machine, that Elora's father was the Dragon leader, whom
she saw at her Ascension, and whom she killed in the realm of the Dragons,
to protect him.
The Coda seemed to me unnecessary. Elora, Thorn, Khory
and the brownies lived, somehow, and it is never explained how, or what
they did in the six months since the destruction of Nockmaar. The
world seems a better place, and Elora is going trouping out as a singer
and dancer, to give hope and dreams to the people who need them.
My biggest question lies in what was not told, though. After the
big deal made about the Malevoiy being part of the world, are they now
part of it?
Elora had to experience all twelve realms, and fit them into
her peace. The realms of the World were always willing to help her.
She experienced Earth, Air, Water, and the one that was closest to her,
Fire. In the circle of the Flesh, she was born and grew up in the
realm of the Daikini (man), and she visited the realms of Lesser Faery
and Malevoiy. She even became Malevoiy. As far as I can remember,
she never visited the realm of Greater Faery, though she saw it from afar.
And in the circle of the Spirit, she experienced Life, Death, and Hope
or Dreams (or the realm of the Dragons). Through joining with the
Deceiver, she experienced the realm of Despair.
Eleven of those are for certain in the world. I don't know
if the Malevoiy are back or not. If anything, I would have hoped
for a more balanced Coda. It was good that it told us that hope was
returning to the world, about the Chengwei empire, and Khory's disappearing
trick, and that there is still war in the world. But it could have
told us so much more, spent more time in the aftermath. Ah, well.
The ending was still good enough for the most part.
But the beginning is where this book gets all of its stars.
I was mesmerized by it all. The dragon realm, the Malevoiy, Elora's
experience in the ages past, and the ways she used her magic to heal both
Khory and herself were great. The description of the magical centers
near the end were not as well done, and felt clumsy. I wonder if
that's why the book was so late coming out -tweaking. But the last
chapter was great. The coda was a decent aftermath, but could have
been more. It also leaves me with the impression that there could
be a follow-up story. I wonder.