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Review of The Wounded Shadow by Patrick Carr   Leave a comment

 

The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, desperate to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the desperate into its shadow, creating a growing army held in its sway. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an old enemy and find an answer far worse than they could have imagined.

Danger stalks the cities of the north, striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek to find answers, the group is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. Will they discover a path to keep their land safe, or will an ancient evil reclaim the world it once called its own?

***

 

To say that I was excited for the third and final book of the Darkwater saga by Patick Carr is an understatement. I practically kept my eyes peeled on my inbox for the email from Bethany House listing the book up for review, then hoping I’d make it on the list. And we’ll skip the part with me doing a victory dance once it did. 😛
Anyway….
Though the series has had its rough spots, overall, it’s been a great adventure. The world-building, the characters…. Honestly, I need to read it over again because I miss it. I’d highly recommend reading the first two books in the series, so you have a proper grasp of what is going on.

The story starts with Willet and the other members of the vigil racing to halt the evil of the Darkwater forest that is sweeping over the continent. With people lured by rumors of gold and precious aurium in the forest’s depths, Cesla is building a powerful army with abilities to rival even the gifted. The solution to their defeat? Locked in a vault within the tortured mind of Willet Dura.

So where to start? The plot, despite some lags in places, is awesome. The tension, the emotional journey of the characters, keeps you riveted to the pages. And I must admit, Patrick Carr went deeper with the characters than I was expecting. Anne Elisabeth Stengl is one of my favorite authors because she knows how to bring to life a character’s dark side and still show the redeeming power of love that bring a person back from the edge of the abyss. To my utter surprise, Patrick Carr went this route and succeeded! Mark, the former urchin and thief now Pellin’s apprentice, who shows more heart and depth than a priest in his desire to bring back the mind of a girl who was twisted into becoming a mindless dwimor, capable only of killing; Pellin, who saw how Cesla was snared into exploring the Darkwater. He recognized the man’s pride that could have been his own and led him into destruction. And in spite of all Cesla’s evil, still loved the man that was once his brother and mentor, and strove to remind him of that in the end. These were perhaps a couple of the most moving areas in the story that touched me.

Toria Deel has been a journey in progress. Originally, she was more of a pompous twit than anything else. And definitely willing do whatever it took to further the Vigil’s goal. The end justifying the means, regardless of who was hurt. Losing the man she loved and being teamed up with a former urchin causes her to soften.

Bolt, honestly, you gotta love. The man is like an older version of Batman and Wolverine thrown in there (DC/Marvel reference, I know :P). He always expects something bad to happen, and rarely shows much emotion. But he has such a dry sense of humor, you can’t help smiling as you read.

Willet…Willet has been an off and on character for me. While I like him, he’s not one of my favorite characters, which is odd since he is the MAIN character in the story. But I think the problem lies with the fact that Patrick Carr tried too hard at times to make the character flawed, and a bit of a wise-mouth. But he’s capable and does try to keep his head in tight situations, so he still works.
The gift of domere changed his life. Some might argue it wasn’t for the better, as it grants to Willet an unnaturally long lifespan that will see him still hale and hearty while the woman he loves grows old. But he learns to accept both it and Gael’s love, and acknowledge that he must leave everything in Aer’s hands.

I came across one review that mention how this book has nothing to do with Christianity, wallows in worldly wisdom, and loses touch with truth. As a reader who actively searches for inspiring reads, I respectively have to disagree. Does the story expound Christian beliefs? Yes. Does it whack you over the head with them? No. I have always believed that the greatest thing a story can do is “show” the message through the characters and their actions, instead of delivering a sermon that makes you roll your eyes.

In the Wounded Shadow, you see the consequences of pride and yet the hope for salvation. Mercy, forgiveness, love, and restoration come together in a sweeping epic that truly makes The Wounded Shadow a satisfying conclusion to this series.
Verdict: A definite buy!

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Review of A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason   Leave a comment

 

 

When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered. Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl’s heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.

Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope–believing that once their marriage is sanctioned by God, Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union. However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between pleasing Hannah and living up to his father’s demanding expectations.

At every turn, forces work to keep the couple apart, and a solution to remain together seems further and further away. With Nolan’s new life pulling him irrevocably away from the woman he loves, it seems only a miracle will bring them back together.

***

 

Due to my mom choosing this, I ended up picking A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason to read. I believe it falls in the Regency romance section? Technically this is not a genre I’m fond of reading. In fact, the Regency genre on a whole I find to be boring (sorry Jane Austen fans). Sense and Sensibility I like, and Jane Eyre ranks as my favorite (in tv watching, not reading). My eagerness to read this book was next to nil, but seeing as how there was little else to pick from March’s catalog of books to blog on, I went with my mom’s suggestion (since I would be giving her the book anyway after I’m done).

This is my first book by Susan Anne Mason, and I’ll be completely honest and say that I was surprised to find myself genuinely enjoying the story. The plot, of course, is simple enough.

Nolan Price, a simple stable hand, has got everything settled for his life. He’s found the farm he intends to purchase once he quits his job at Stainsby Hall, and got the right woman, a kitchen maid named Hannah, to join in matrimony and spend the rest of his life with. Even better, he plans on taking his mother with him where she’ll be able to spend the rest of her remaining years in peace. Unfortunately, life refuses to stay that simple for him.

His mother falls ill, and before she dies, tells him the truth of his parentage: that he is really the son of the Earl of Stainsby. With that revelation, his hopes of leading a quiet life with the woman he loves goes up in smoke, as he won’t be able to marry beneath his station.

I really did enjoy reading about Nolan. It’s not often you find guys with enough backbone willing to fight for a woman. And Nolan did fight all the way, right down to sneakily eloping behind the Earl’s back, even after being forbidden to marry Hannah since she was a kitchen maid. Although I do have to be honest and say that it did get annoying him with him trying to please his father, who only kept behaving like an absolute moron.
Much of the story focused on the tension between Nolan and his father, with the Earl applying all the pressure he can to force his son to conform to his demands, and Nolan both fighting him and trying to please him as best he can. As for all the rigorous training Nolan must undergo for his new position, that is mostly kept in the background and never delved into. Which I didn’t mind, since the drama between the characters kept you turning the pages.

Hannah, the love of Nolan, is a sweet girl, innocent and very supportive of Nolan. She is Nolan’s anchor in the storm that sweeps over his life, but as time goes on and she is eventually forbidden to even meet with him per the instructions of the Earl, she eventually starts crumble, especially after she overhears a secret conversation. While I admired her willingness to sacrifice her happiness for Nolan and could empathize with her inner fears that she wasn’t worthy to be loved, it did get maddening watching her always taking off on Nolan, then fussing about how he must not want her anymore and will probably get swept away with the money and position. And of course Nolan didn’t help matters. You can’t try to please a demanding and thoroughly controlling father at the expense of your wife.

In the end, it isn’t so much the Earl of Stainsby who is the threat to their happiness, but themselves. Which brings us to the Earl himself. To say he was annoying would be an understatement. Obnoxious is closer to it. However, as the story progresses, he ends up meeting the Duchess of Hartford, who proves to be the one to deliver some common sense to the Earl with her unorthodox ways.

Faith content was minimal. But there were some good lessons, like Nolan learning to let go of his pride and Hannah her insecurities. And above all, learning to put God first in things and trusting Him to work everything out.

So all in all, the story was an enjoyable read, and one I think everyone will enjoy revisiting on rainy days and winter nights.

Verdict: While not the most inspiring, A Most Noble Heir is a story with well-developed characters and good pacing that will please most lovers of historical fiction, so a buy is recommended. (And on a side-note, my mom also gives this her seal of approval. 😉 )

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

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