On the world of Athera, two half-brothers gifted of Light and Shadow defeated the Mistwraith. But its revenge left them cursed to life-long enmity, stirring war and deadly intrigue.
Arithon s'Ffalenn, Master of Shadow, trained mage and masterbard, is the last Prince of Rathain. His life has become the cipher upon which the world's fate will turn: he is the target of powerful enemies.
His half-brother, Lysaer s'Ilessid, is now hailed as an avatar. His fanatical following has formed an Alliance of Light sworn to destroy the Master of Shadow. The Prime Enchantress of the Koriani Order seeks his capture to defeat her arch rivals. And trapped by binding vows, Elaira, who holds Arithon's heart, is commanded to arrange his betrayal.
Amid building entanglements of spellcraft and conspiracy converging to bring Arithon down, contending foes bid for power -- and their battle will threaten the bindings that imprison the Mistwraith itself...
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Janny Wurts's justifiably skillful and lovingly composed Wars of Light and Shadow series joins the ranks of Robert Jordan's protracted Wheel of Time series, et al., as either--depending on which camp you hail from--the height of high fantasy or the deeply frustrating (yet persistent) problem with the genre.
All that said, Wurts has wooed many fans to her series with compelling characters, a tremendously complex (and painstakingly developed) web of plotlines, and distinctively lush and lyric storytelling. Grand Conspiracy represents part two of part three of a five-part epic--to her credit, Wurts broke the series' third story arc (Alliance of Light) into three parts only reluctantly. The action in this installment surrounds Arithon s'Ffalenn, the fugitive Master of Shadow and the victim of the title's grand conspiracy. Everyone's got it in for him these days, and even his beloved, Elaira, has been shanghaied by her Koriani cronies into playing a role in his betrayal--she must transform an innocent, Fionn Areth, into Arithon's double to draw him out. Grand Conspiracy delivers more of the same, perhaps lacking a bit of the action of previous installments; check out Curse of the Mistwraith if you're new to the series. --Paul HughesAbout the Author:
Janny Wurts is the author of eleven novels, a collection of short stories, and the internationally best selling Empire trilogy written in collaboration with Raymond E. Feist. Her current release in her Wars of Light and Shadow series, Grand Conspiracy, and her forthcoming hardcover, Peril's Gate, are the culmination of more than twenty years of carefully evolved ideas. The cover images on the books, both in the US and abroad, are her own paintings, depicting her vision of characters and setting.
Through her combined talents as a writer/illustrator, Janny has immersed herself in a lifelong ambition: to create a seamless interface between words and pictures that will lead reader and viewer beyond the world we know. Her lavish use of language lures the mind into a crafted realm of experience, with characters and events woven into a complex tapestry, and drawn with an intensity to leave a lasting impression. Her research includes a range of direct experience, lending her fantasy a gritty realism, and her scenes involving magic an almost visionary credibility. A self–taught painter, she draws directly from the imagination, creating scenes in a representational style that blurs the edges between dream and reality. She makes no preliminary sketches, but envisions her characters and the scenes that contain them, then executes the final directly from the initial pencil drawing.
The seed idea for the Wars of Light and Shadow series occurred, when, in the course of researching tactic and weapons, she viewed a documentary film on the Battle of Culloden Moor. This was the first time she had encountered the historical context of that brutal event, with the embroidery of romance stripped from it. The experience gave rise to an awakening, which became anger, that so often, our education, literature and entertainment slant history in a manner that equates winners and losers with moral right and wrong, and the prevalent attitude, that killing wars can be seen as justifiable solutions when only one side of the picture is presented.
Her series takes the stance that there are two sides to every question, and follows two characters who are half brothers. One a bard trained as a master of magecraft, and the other a born ruler with a charismatic passion for justice, have become cursed to lifelong enmity. As one sibling raises a devoted mass following, the other tries desperately to stave off defeat through solitary discipline and cleverness. The conflict sweeps across an imaginary world, dividing land and people through an intricate play of politics and the inborn prejudices of polarized factions already set at odds. Readers are led on a journey that embraces both viewpoints. The story explores the ironies of morality which often confound our own human condition-that what appears right and just, by one side, becomes reprehensible when seen from the opposite angle. What is apparently good for the many, too often causes devastating suffering to the nonconformist minority. Through the interactions between the characters themselves, the reader is left to their own discretion to interpret the moral impact of events.
Says Janny of her work, "I chose to frame this story against a backdrop of fantasy because I could handle even the most sensitive issues with the gloves off-explore the myriad angles of our troubled times with the least risk of offending anyone's personal sensibilities. The result, I can hope, is an expanding journey of the spirit that explores the grand depths, and rises to the challenge of mapping the ethereal potential of an evolving planetary consciousness."
Beyond writing, Janny's award winning paintings have been showcased in exhibitions of imaginative artwork, among them a commemorative exhibition for NASA's 25th Anniversary; the Art of the Cosmos at Hayden Planetarium in New York; and two exhibits of fantasy art, at both the Delaware Art Museum, and Canton Art Museum.
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