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September 27th, 2012

30 of 52

When Darkness Falls (Obsidian, #3)When Darkness Falls by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've only given this 4 stars (which may be unfair) because I was disappointed by the too tidy ending, but otherwise I would have given this a glowing 5 star rating. As it is, I can only give it a four--but that four has brilliant, radiant stars, and its own fireworks display.

When Darkness Falls is the third book in the Obsidian Mountain Trilogy, and all of the disaster, despair, and danger of the first two volumes does come to a head here, in mostly satisfying ways. The characters continue to develop and grow, the secondary characters become essential parts of the fabric of the world, the strong and beautiful begin to crumble. At times the mood and tone rival Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books for sheer hopelessness, and the Battle for Armethalieh rivals, even exceeds, the Battle at Pelennor Fields for sheer devastation of what is good and true.

Since there is a trilogy set after this one I don't believe I give much away when I say that our heroes triumph at a terrible cost. And that was satisfying. But the cost is very high.

The book has some profound flaws. Lacey and Mallory are not particularly good at sustained battle sequences (a problem when so much of the volume is about, well, battles, both massed and single combat). They are much better at the magic--making it feel real, in all its varied forms. And they are good at putting us inside the consciousness of very different characters. There, nuance and detail abound, which makes the paucity of those same elements even more conspicuous in the battle scenes.

Still, this trilogy is one of the best fantasy sets I've read in a very long time. When I look around after I have been reading these for awhile I'm a little startled that I'm not in The Wild Lands, or the streets of the City of a Thousand Bells, or the Flower Forest of Sentarshadeen. I want to be back there, in the story. I keep reaching for the book, only to remember I've finished it, and that provokes a sense of loss. I want to go back, and be with Kellen, and Cilarnen, and Jermayan, and Idalia. I miss them already.

Thank Leaf and Star for bringing these books into the world. They gave me joy.

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