Lady of Light and Shadows is the second half of C.L. Wilson’s original 1,000-page manuscript. That’s one of the reasons (a 1,000-page manuscript from a new author being another) her Tairen Soul series was rejected several times before finally being published. At that time, C.L., in her wildest dreams, never imagined her book would go well beyond that thousand pages to culminate in five books. When dreams fly, they go fast and far.
In this book, Ellie is coming into her own, learning she’s more than who she thought she was all her life. Her romance with Rain is still fledgling but progressing toward something that calls to her soul. Of course, evil magic is not too far away no matter where this couple is. Especially now that Ellie is learning how to use her magic and also learning more about the darkness residing within her.
Below, enjoy my original review of LoLaS, along with an excerpt from the book.
Even though she is a woodcarver’s daughter, Ellysetta Baristani holds a powerful magic within herself, magic she is afraid to wield. She’s hopeful with her truemate’s help to learn to harness that magic to avoid such disasters as the one she wielded at her first official function as queen to Rain Tairen Soul’s king of the fey.
She not only has embarrassed herself, Rain, and all noblemen and women present, but she’s made it much more difficult for Rain to garner the votes he needs to halt the proposed opening of Cerelia’s borders with Eld, the place where evil magic resides within their mages. Then there are her dreams and nightmares that scare her to the point of wishing she had no magic. Ellie knows something horrible is going to happen, something that involves her and she doesn’t know what it is or how to stop it. All of the polishing in the world to make her a queen will make no difference if that evil finally claims her. If it weren’t for Rain, she doesn’t know what she would do.
Becoming more and more frustrated with the Cerelians’ lack of suspicion concerning the Eld mages’ current plans and their loss of trust in the fey, it is Rain’s courtship of Ellie that keeps him sane. He knows she is frightened of her magic, and now she has begun to share his dreams, which is making her situation all the more dire than ever before.
Teaching her how to call and use her magic has been going well, but it is those moments alone with his beloved that fill his heart with love and life, something he desperately needs as he gathers the evidence the Cerelian Council demands before they will deny their foolish plan to open their world to the evil just beyond their borders. Unbeknownst to both Rain and Ellysetta, that evil has already infiltrated their world and is working its way toward pulling them into an unknown from which they will never recover.
Fighting for their future together from attacks on several different fronts, including her mother, is taking its toll on Ellie and Rain, and it seems every day brings another problem that has to be resolved. Feeling more and more confident the mages are closer than any of them realize, Rain is determined to move their wedding up and then quickly whisk Ellie off to the fading lands where she will be out of harm’s way.
But as last-minute preparations are being made and Rain is in the middle of the city leaders’ vote concerning their fate, Ellie is finally faced with the fear that has haunted her all her life and she’s fighting with all she’s got for everyone and everything she holds dear. The one time she needs her magic and her psychic link to Rain is when it seems to desert her and she is within evil’s grasp. Will Rain be able to reach her in time to save his truemate, the one and only person who completes him heart and soul? Will Ellysetta finally be able to cleave to her magic and become the woman she’s meant to be?
C.L. Wilson has done it once again with her sequel to Lord of the Fading Lands. Lady of Light and Shadows throws us straight into the lives of this endearing duo who work their way into our hearts all over again when their story picks up right where it left off in the previous book.
Rain and Ellie’s courtship, although wonderful to behold, is fraught with tension from different corners, but when Rain takes to the skies again in his tairen form with Ellie on his back, all is right with the world for a little while.
There is more heartache this time around, though; and the evil that was kept to the background before comes barreling full throttle into the forefront and pulls no punches.
Ms. Wilson’s writing is a wonder to behold and read. She will keep you in awe with emotion and suspense until the very last word, and then she will make you desperately long for the next edition of this beautiful four-book fantasy.
Since her earliest memories, Ellysetta Baristani has feared magic, even as she has been inexorably drawn to all things Fey, especially the poetry and legends of Rain Tairen Soul. Now claimed as Rain’s truemate and no longer able to deny her own magic, Ellysetta is swept into the very center of a struggle filled with the magic and darkness she has always feared. The High Mage of Eld wants to capture her. The most murderous dahl’reisen who ever lived wants her dead. And her enemies will corrupt even the people she loves most in their quest to claim her magic for themselves.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series:
I dream of wing and fang and pride, I dream of venom swift and sure.
I dream of song and cloud and sky, I dream of flame that scorches pure.
I dream of dancing crystal winds, and soaring high above the world.
I dream of enemies and prey that flee my dread and fiery roar.
Tairen Dreams, by Jion vel Baris, Tairen Soul
Ellysetta Baristani stood in the dark, fire-lit cavern of Fey’Bahren, the fabled nesting lair of the tairen. Nearby, six leathery eggs lay incubating in a thick, cushioning layer of hot black sand. A massive, cinnamon-furred tail curled protectively around the eggs, its black tip rising and falling rhythmically, raising clouds of fine dark dust as it thumped the sand. The dust swirled about Ellie like shadowy mist, darkening her skirts with a fine layer of sooty ash. Unshed tears clogged the back of her throat and stung her eyes.
The tairen were dying.
Ellie couldn’t explain how she knew it. The knowledge was just there in her mind, and it felt familiar, as if it had been there for a long, long time.
Calah, the last fertile female of the tairen pride, was growing feebler with each passing day, her life’s essence draining as she struggled to maintain the viability of her six unhatched kitlings. The last hope of a future for the tairen rested with those tiny, unborn lives—three of them female— their life force weakening even as their small bodies matured in the egg.
The mother tairen’s cinnamon fur was dull and shedding. Her proud feline head—larger than Ellysetta’s body—rested wearily on her forepaws, and her piercing golden eyes were closed. Breath heaved in and out of her enormous body in great windy gusts. She had not eaten in two weeks. Her mate, Merdrahl, was frantic with worry. He paced restlessly by the entrance to the nesting grounds, brown wings rustling, massive paws padding not so silently back and forth across the sands, low growls emanating from his powerful chest and rumbling through the cavern like thunder. His dark brown tail curled and uncurled, flicking in agitation. His fur was ruffled, his ears laid back, and his fangs dripped deadly tairen venom. Every so often, he would pause, dig his claws into the rock, and heave an angry jet of flame.
If Merdrahl could have slain something to bring peace to his mate and protect their offspring, he would have. And Ellysetta would have helped him.
A growl sounded overhead. She looked up into the gleaming, pupilless green eyes of Sybharukai, the wise one, oldest of all female tairen and makai— leader—of the Fey’Bahren pride. She crouched on the ledge above, her unsheathed front claws curling into the rock of her perch. Her dark, silver-tipped gray fur gleamed like thunderclouds and smoke in the flickering light of the cavern. The rounded points of her ears flicked continuously. Her dark gray tail swished restlessly in the air, and the lethal bony spikes hidden in its furred tip stabbed at the rocks around her. Her wings unfolded and stretched high above her back, flapping twice. The sharp claw at the mid-span joint on each wing gleamed like a curved mei’cha blade in the flickering light.
**I will find a way, Sybharukai.** A deep, masculine voice sang the vow in the rich, vivid tones of tairen song.
Heat curled in Ellysetta’s belly, drawing inner muscles tight in a series of small, rippling shudders of remembered pleasure. She turned and found Rain standing beside her.
Rainier vel’En Daris, the Tairen Soul, the legendary Fey shapeshifter who had once scorched the world in a wild, grief-stricken fury over the death of his beloved mate, Sariel.
Rain Tairen Soul, King of the Fey, who had stepped from the sky to claim Ellysetta as his shei’tani, his truemate, the only woman ever born with whom he could form a soul bond even stronger than the love bond he’d held with Sariel.
His long black hair hung down his back, straight and fine, framing a face of breathtaking masculine beauty. Black Fey leathers hugged broad shoulders, slim hips, and long, lean legs. His deadly swords and the scores of throwing knives tucked into the bands criss-crossing his chest gleamed golden in the flickering firelight. His lavender eyes were glowing, his beautiful mouth grim.
“I will find a way,” he said again, aloud this time but still addressing the majestic gray tairen. “I will not fail you.”
Turning, he strode off the nesting sands towards a wide opening at the end of the cavern. Ellie hurried after him and together they jogged up a long, winding passage through the mountain and emerged on a wide, sunlit ledge high above the Fading Lands. Ellie raised a hand to shield her eyes, blinking at the brightness of the Great Sun.
When her eyes adjusted, she gave a gasp of awe-filled wonder. They were standing near the top of the steep, dark mountainside of Fey’Bahren, the tallest volcano in the majestic Feyls range that formed the northern border of the Fading Lands. Below, the rippling golden grasses of the Plains of Corunn spread out for miles. She drank in the breathtaking scenery, which seemed at once familiar yet new, like a forgotten memory, freshly renewed.
“Oh, Rain,” she breathed. “It’s so beautiful.”
Beside her, magic gathered as Rain summoned the Change.
Ellysetta’s body tingled as the surge of energy swept around and through her. A fine gray mist billowed about him, about them both, and she threw back her head on a swell of pleasure so intense it bordered on pain. Though it was Rain, not she, who was the shapeshifter, she felt his body dissolve and expand as if it were her own, felt the echo of awareness as his Fey senses grew even more acute. Fur sprouted, wings spread, claws speared the rock.
Moments later the mist cleared, and a magnificent death-black tairen with huge lavender eyes crouched on the ledge where Rain Tairen Soul, the Fey king and Ellysetta’s betrothed, had stood. The tairen spread his enormous ebony wings, gathered strength in his haunches, and sprang into the air with an echoing roar.
Behind him, standing alone on the ledge, still trapped in her human form, she cried out, “Rain, come back! Don’t leave me!”
* * *
Ellysetta woke with her heart thumping and tears cooling on her cheeks. Another dream, one that seemed so real. The emotions still held her heart clutched tight, making her want to weep in despair for the dying tairen and the terrible, grieving emptiness that struck when Rain took to the air and abandoned her on that ledge.
**Another nightmare, shei’tani?** The familiar sound of Rain’s Spirit voice, low and husky with sleep, sounded in her mind. An arm tightened around her waist. There was a warm, heavy weight pressed against her in her narrow bed—and it was most definitely not her twin sisters, Lillis and Lorelle, cuddling up with her as they sometimes did.
She turned her head slowly, and her breath stalled in her lungs.
For the first time in the last five days, there was no little courtship gift beside her when she woke. There was, instead, a great big one. All black leather, white skin and inky hair, Rain lay beside her on her narrow bed, his long limbs draped over her.
Thinking she must still be dreaming, she closed her eyes, inhaled, opened them again.
He was still there, solid and warm, his face pressed to her neck.
She should leap up and get dressed before her mother came in and found her like this, but she couldn’t seem to move her limbs. Instead, she lay there, staring at him in dazed wonder. Through her bedroom window the first pale rays of the rising Great Sun shone down upon them. Dawn was breaking, and Rain Tairen Soul was in her bed.