Warhost of Vastmark [US] [UK] is the third book in the Wars of Light and Shadow series, but it was originally intended as the second half of book two. Either way, with all of the set up that happened in The Ships of Merior (review), book two, Warhost was a blast to read from page one.
There will be spoilers from this point in the review on, but I'll try to keep them to the first two books.
Warhost starts right of the bat with one of the biggest mysteries from the last books. What happened to Kharadmon, one of the disembodied sorcerers of the Fellowship? His was the task to find out more about the mistwraith and bring back more information from the universe.
In each book, I keep thinking that the world and the story is already complicated and intricate and beautiful and unending, and yet each book expands the world and story in unimaginable ways. This book was filled with tiny bits of information that I had to reread a couple times just to stop my head from spinning. This world is so well though-out, so amazingly intricate, and yet I'm still missing so many things and learning plenty more. I just have to stand back in awe at what an amazing talent Wurts is.
Warhost also continues the story of Arithon, the fugitive prince of Rathain, and Dakar, the Mad Prophet. Dakar is attached to Arithon whether he likes it or not, and he definitely does not. Their relationship continues to grow in new and profound ways and I'll stop there because it's such a subtle relationship that I don't want to spoil.
Arithon is still running away from his half-brother, Lysaer, who insists on tracking him throughout the continent. Lysayer continues to convince everyone around him that it's necessary to expend so many troops and moneys on hunting Arithon because ... because he has to!
Lysaer's a brilliant character in both his motivations and how he is drawn. You want to root against him, but he's so compelling and you know it's not his fault. He will stop at nothing to see his half-brother stopped and you will see what that phrase actually means in this book. The body count is probably the most I've ever read in any fantasy book.
And yet that's not at all the intent of Arithon. Arithon is the scapegoat for every catastrophe, but he is the most compassionate character you will ever read. I've spoken of this before, but it is demonstrated even moreso in Warhost how Arithon will do anything he can to prevent war. I have never seen a character do this much to stop it in all my years reading fantasy. Usually, characters drag their feet going to war or fight knowing it is wrong, but Arithon goes out of his way to stop it and it is the most captivating reading experience I have had.
The characters that Wurts writes are second to none. They will have you crying one moment and cheering the next. They're so powerful and set in the backdrop that is the world of Athera (and all the other worlds), this is a series not to be missed. It only gets better and that really doesn't compute because how do you get better from absolutely stunning?
5 out of 5 Stars (epic emotion-filled fantasy)
The Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts (read in red)
1) The Curse of the Mistwraith (review)
Arc II: The Ships of Merior
2) The Ships of Merior (review)
3) The Warhost of Vastmark
Arc III: Alliance of Light
4) Fugitive Prince
5) Grand Conspiracy
6) Peril's Gate
7) Traitor's Knot
8) Stormed Fortress
Arc IV: Sword of the Canon
9) Initiate's Trial
10) Destiny's Conflict (forthcoming)
11) Song of the Mysteries (forthcoming)
Note: Janny Wurts is running a giveaway at the moment through reddit.com/r/fantasy if you want a chance (out of 5) to win the first book in the series, The Curse of the Mistwraith. She will also be doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on r/fantasy on October 15, so get your questions ready.
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