Review of CROWN OF VENGEANCE by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The DRAGON PROPHESYTor, November 2012
According to ancient and obscure prophesy, a new high king will come... and destroy the hundred houses. For thousands of years, the houses have battled one another, each prince seeking to become the next king. Each time, one house appears to be ascendent, other houses unite to pull it down... and then turn on one another. Vieliessar, last heir to a vanished house, dreams of vengence but dares never leave the Sanctuary. The princedoms that destroyed her father's house wait to complete the elimination of all possible enemies.
When Vieliessar receives the gift of light (magic), she also learns that vengence, the recreation of her house, are not to be a part of her future. Instead, she's been given powerful gifts, but can use them only to recreate the kingdom in order to face the overwhelming power of the endarkened.
There hasn't been a high king for thousands of years and nobody but Vieliessar takes her ambitions seriously. Not only does Vieliessar mean to be high king, she means for it to happen in a single year. Against her, the land's most powerful princedoms, led by gifted warlord Runacarendalur, marshal their forces.
Stories of the prophesied one are a staple of fantasy... to the point where it's easy to verge into cliche. An author has got to come up with something new, something special, to make this old story line work. So, strike one. Strike two is that any time a reader sees two authors named on a book cover... especially if one of those authors is a famous name like Mercedes Lackey, there's got to be a suspicion that the big name author wrote a five page outline and left all the work to the lesser-known. So, I was prepared to be disappointed by CROWN OF VENGENCE. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.
Mercedes Lackey (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of fantasy by Lackey) and James Mallory (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of fantasy by Mallory) combine to write a strong fantasy with sympathetic and interesting characters (I liked it that the two primary characters were opponents throughout the story), the underlying threat of He who Is, and plenty of action. I would have liked to see a bit more of the strategy both sides followed... it seemed that there was something going on that Lackey and Mallory didn't take the time to explain. Still, I found myself drawn into the story and carried through a book that weighs in at over six hundred pages (hardback edition).
Books by Lackey and Mallory aren't quite the same as those by Lackey alone. I find Lackey's books to be more emotional, but less epic. CROWN OF VENGEANCE is epic, with vast armies, horrible threats, and hungry ambition driving characters. Overall, while there were a few things I would have done differently, I really enjoyed reading this book.
Four StarsReviewed 5/14/13
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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