In the second of O’Connor’s (Silevethiel, 2013, etc.) fantasy series, a princess must overcome her doubts if she’s to help fulfill a prophecy to rescue her world from potential destruction.
Irewen Donríel, quarter-elven princess of the human kingdom of Dargon, is traveling alone to Lündvelle, hoping the Light Elves’ archives hold the prophecy to vanquish an evil from the world of Vaelinel. The spirits of both her mother, who died giving birth to her, and her murdered father warn Irewen that death is imminent. Cousin Elthad, possessed by a being known as the Corrupter, is trailing Irewen with powerful minions, the Drulaack. Irewen hides in the spirit world, alarming her guardian, lionness Silevethiel, who loses her telepathic link to the princess. Meanwhile, Laegon, prince of the Wood Elves’ kingdom, Silverden, decides to go after his love, Irewen, and assembles a rescue party, including his own guardian, Brégen, a handful of warriors, and Silevethiel. When later battling the Drulaack, Laegon uses his ability of sight to probe their minds and fears he’s consequently infected himself with a sort of illness. Irewen, once out of the spirit world, is likely infected as well, which could impede her mission to save Vaelinel. O’Connor’s book thrives on playing with convention, like the possibility of romance between the princess and the prince. Though the two clearly care for one another, they most often argue and banter. It’s rewarding to watch Irewen overcome such obstacles as repression, due in part to her royal upbringing; she’s proud of herself when she tells a villain to leave her alone—in less kind words. The baddies, too, are a formidable presence. The Drulaack have the terrifying capability of crossing over into the spirit world, while the forked-tongue Corrupter is striking, though very little is revealed about him. There’s not much action in terms of plot, but O’Connor adequately sets the stage for the third installment, namely the introduction of an individual whose fate is inextricably tied to Irewen.
A continually fascinating tale with a protagonist who charms, inspires, and evolves.