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WesternSFA
Crown of Vengeance: Book One of the Dragon Prophecy
by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
TOR, $27.99, 605pp
Release Date: November 13, 2012
This is a rousing, formal start to a series of novels (no doubt) about a “Child of Prophecy” who is destined to destroy the current world order and confront the ultimate evil.

Vieliessar Farcarinon is the last daughter and scion of the noble house of Farcarinon. Her mother, pursued by enemies, sought the Sanctuary of the Star (a mage college, if you will) to deliver her baby and barely made it. Vieleissar is born and her mother dies.

Vieliessar lives out her childhood and early womanhood tucked away in this protected sanctuary. She comes to the Light (achieves her mage powers) here and studies everything she can.

But she soon becomes aware there is a plot against her and she finds herself exiled into a wood where the head of the Sanctuary hopes she’ll die.

Wrong.

She finds an old crippled sword master in an isolated cottage who believes the story she is the legendary Child of Prophecy and will train her in all aspects of battle. He also finds her a horse master to train her in mounted warfare. In thanks for this, Vieliessar, who has learned Healing at the Sanctuary, is able to do a great magic and cause two lost limbs to grow back so the sword master is whole again and able to give her his all.

She is determined to fulfill the prophecy and works darn hard to become High King of the all the land. First, she needs to destroy the constantly fighting Hundred Houses (of nobles) and bind them to her campaign. In the process, she destroys the rigid Codes of Battle and the multitude of strictures for everything else to make all the people equal under the law except of course, for the High King; something that hasn’t existed for centuries.

Her journey of discovery and efforts to break the hidebound warring Houses is monumental; filled with revelations about herself, reforming the rules of engagement in war, and how the Lightborn, noble warriors, farm and craft people all interact, etc.

The reason a High King is needed now because there exists He Who Is---a Sauron/Morgoth-like creature who rules a world of darkness which is the antithesis of the Lightborn (who for all intents and purposes are elves). He Who Is has decided the world of the Lightborn must end completely and wants to swallow the land in darkness. This evil incarnate has a mouth/lieutenant named Virulan who is actively leading the efforts to destroy the Lightborn—who are completely ignorant of their existence.

So yes: this is your basic struggle of Dark versus Light in amazing detail.

Lackey and Mallory have created tongue-twisting names for everyone and everything. The winner being: the lost hidden Kingdom of Celephriandullias-Tildorangelor. Seriously.

So this would be just one of my caveats: Unpronounceable lengthy names, Houses and landmarks. No dictionary to explain made-up terms and a really useless vague map that only has the houses of alfaljodthi (the Lightborn’s name for themselves).

I like Vieliessar—but because we are dealing with a Legend with a capital “L,” she is larger than life. There is little humor here and lots of stiff posturing as well as verbiage. Frequently, the scenes read as if set in a grand pageant and the characters are all striking poses and making pronouncements. And for me this was very distancing. It is a Grand Legend we are reading here, and perhaps for me—it is too Tolkienish (especially in his Silmarillion mode) and so it is not easy to care for the characters except in a general way since even their flaws are the stuff of legend: hubris, a weakness for power, greed, etc.

If you like your worlds very formal and stately—this is definitely the tale for you.

There is lots of political intrigue, treachery and a real doozy of a revelation about Vieliessar and one of the main enemy lords. One that has real saga-changing ramifications. There is no romance. Affection for anyone seems to be lacking and/or overlooked here.

(And, P.S.: No dragons yet). ~~ Sue Martin

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