C. L. Wilson – "Lord Of The Fading Lands"

16 Nov

GENRE: Fantasy (Paranormal Romance)
PUBLISHED: Leisure Books, 2007

The back blurb:
“Once he had scorched the world.
Once he had driven back overwhelming darkness.
Once he had loved with passion, his name was legend … Tairen Soul.
Now a thousand years later, a new threat calls him from the Fading Lands, back into the world that had cost him so dearly. Now an ancient, familiar evil is regaining its strength, and a new voice beckons him – more compelling, more seductive, more maddening than any before.
As the power of his most bitter enemy grows and ancient alliances crumble, the wildness in his blood will not be denied. The tairen must claim his truemate and embrace the destiny woven for him in the mists of time.”

Many, many readers like this novel very much. I saw only one not-so-enthusiastic opinion about it (after I ordered it). Overall, the consensus is that LotFL is epic fantasy with a strong romance which is something I like to read. And that it is very good. I was so sold.

But I’m afraid, for me the promise didn’t live up to the delivery. I don’t say it’s bad, I just say it’s not that good. Let me start with the characters.

Ellie is the heroine of this story and the truemate to the tairen soul (Rain). And she’s a respectable Mary-Sue character for sure. Not particular attractive, maybe even ugly? Check. Teased and something of an outsider? Check. Kind, caring, and soooo nice (despite that)? Check. Adopted with unknown parentage? Check. A dark secret? Check. Incredible powerful and doesn’t even know about it? Check. Able to enthrall the males of her truemate’s race just because she does something, e.g. moaning in pleasure after drinking? Check. Mere mortal and truemate to an incredible powerful being (there’s more)? Check. Truemate to an incredible powerful being who once scorched the world and went mad for a couple of hundred years after his heartmate (a “lesser” connection than a truemate connection) died (there’s still more)? Check. The only truemate to a Tairen Soul in history evah? Check.

Now the hero, Rain Tairen Soul, is a wish come true for every respectable Mary-Sue character. Beautiful beyond belief? Check. King of his race? Check. More powerful than any other of his race? Check. The last with a special ability of his race? Check. In short, if there is a superlative to match, Rain does match it.

There are many characters introduced in the story but overall, they are either good or evil. There is (nearly) nothing in between (except my hope that in the next volume something goes down for our sweeeet heroine, Ellie).

As for the story, there is not much happening. The enemy is stirring – well, of course! – and in pursuit of Ellie. Who is – who would have thought! – somehow connected to it. There are inklings that Ellie is super-powerful – well, yes! – and the romance has shades of Cinderella and courtship scenes which are sometimes a bit too much. I get it that they’re supposed to show that being truemates doesn’t equal love (more on that later) but what we get to see is more like the obligatory sequence of scenes from the script of a romantic movie. You know the one I mean: the couple does all kind of things together which are shown in a whirlwind of pictures and with music playing in the background (I’m sure there’s a name for this). This extensive show of courtship rituals, while necessary for the truemate thing, didn’t much advance the story or characters. They were well-known scenes and as that I didn’t find them written compellingly enough to make them look interesting or fresh. For example, of course Ellie enjoys flying with Rain in his tairen form. In short, there’s a feeling that the courtship scenes (and other scenes) could have been written more economically. The way they are now, I think they are an important factor why the story slowed down after the beginning. I had no trouble putting the book down after the first few chapters. Thankfully, near the end the story starts to pick up speed again.

Some things about the fantasy aspect:
– good vs evil with well-known world-building aspects and plot elements (nothing surprising so far, but I “see” some possibilities)
– apostrophe language and fancy names (I had especially fun with “Shei’tan” and “Shei’tani” – there’s a real life meaning of these “made up” words that’s at odds with their made up meaning in a very hilarious way)
– the magic system: Let’s just say that compared to Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris, the magic system in LotFL seems to be the equivalent of snipping your fingers and pulling the rabbit out of the hat. I can’t remember if there’s some kind of drawback for the 8heavy) use of magic (and what does this say?). Some questions: why can’t nobody detect the “dark” magic? And since they obviously can’t, why didn’t they develop other means to guard or or at least think of it as a possibility?

And a last, nit-picking thing: Ellie knows so much about the fey and truemates and so on. But she doesn’t recognize the claiming words for truemates and believes Rand will leave her even though he recognizes her as his truemate?

Now, what did I like?

I quite enjoy the truemate / heartmate distinction Wilson makes. Too often, when a mate-thing is thrown in a story it goes like: “You’re my mate. You’re mine. We love each other:” Wilson shows that there is a difference between having a connection because it is your fate (variations of the mate thing) and having a connection because it is your choice (falling in love with each other). Ellie realizes this and she’s not happy about it. She might be the sun (truemate) to the moon (heartmate) – which I think is quite a lovely line – and so in fact offered much more than the moon. But she isn’t chosen of free will. Much time (also not in a completely convincing way, see above) is given to show that a truemate bond doesn’t equal (instant) love.

I liked that LotFL is a story with a tight connection between two genres: romance and fantasy. You don’t find that often.

I think the story has some potential and I think that some time in the future, I will pick up the second volume. It won’t be right away. And it won’t be for the main characters or the main story. (Well, there is Ellie and the “darkness” which is kind of interesting.) But when I get the second part, it will be for little but interesting things in LotFL which I want to see how they turn out, if they’re important, if I’m right about them and so on.

Would I recommend this novel? Probably yes.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe.

Grade: 3- / 5


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