Jennifer Fallon concludes her stunning trilogy with Harshini, a series that is as grandiose as Eddings in characterisation and as crafted as Feist in its plot. Amongst the recent mediocrity in fantasy publications this stands out as a shining example of quality authorship that harks back to the genre’s pinnacle years of the late eighties.
So, in this last effort, we start with the Kairen invasion halted, R’Shiel, the Demon Child, in control once more of the Hytherian warbands, Damin Wolfblade married to the firebrand Fardonhyan princess, Adrina and Tarja is left scratching his head after being saved with a demon-meld blood transfusion. Whilst Tarja takes the defecting Defenders south, struggling to come to terms with the fact that his love for R’Shiel was geas-induced, she rips through the Hytherian nobility like a tornado showing the poise, aloofness and sorcerous exasperation that is so reminiscent of Polgara.
Whilst Adrina and Damin are finally admitting they love each other and Damin is securing this throne, R’Shiel bullies Adrina’s father into aiding both Hytherin and then securing the Citadel against the invading Karien army. The reappearance of Sanctuary after Korandellan’s death and the return of the Harshini sparks the climatic scenes where R’Shiel finally understands how to defeat Xaphista and proceeds to do so before tying up the malevolent loose end that is Loclon.
Jennifer Fallon’s trilogy is reminiscent in characterisation and style of David Eddings’ finest efforts. It is, therefore, no surprise that this fresh visit on such a winning fantasy strategy succeeds so admirably. World altering events are forced through by an omnipotent sorceress who is tasked with destroying an evil God whilst she uses the warring noble factions of the associated kingdoms to achieve her mortal aims simply by bashing their heads together to get some sense into them. However, whilst it parallels Eddings in style, it is unique in its own way. The scene depictions and plot are entirely Fallon, the action is crafted and plausible. What is ironic about this superb trilogy is that it is the main character, R’Shiel, who is the most irritating. Her naive, arrogant stumbling through the world means that little empathy is engendered for her by the end of the trilogy, particularly for a woman who had to rely on a geas to gain the love of Tarja. The supporting characters all emerge with immense credit, Adrina and Damin being the best in so many ways. Tarja, once the geas is broken, becomes the Lord Defender he was meant to be and finishes strongly. At the end, as R’Shiel’ realises, the world no longer needs her and any subsequent novels set here (which Fallon must produce) do not actually need R’Shiel.
So, a sparkling trilogy that has created a world that offers far more stories than we have been served so far. Any fan of the genre must recognise the quality that Fallon has produced and hopefully more will come from her pen.
Review by travelswithacanadian
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