Lord of the Fading Lands
Tairen Soul #1
Published 2007 by Leisure Books (Dorchester)
Knowing that the tairen are dying, Rain Tairen Soul, King of the Fey breaks an ancient taboo to consult the truth stone thingy and learns that he must travel to Celieria, a country he hasen't visited for a thousand years, since he nearly destroyed the world. There he finds Ellysetta, his unexpected truemate, who has the power to save the tairen, the Fey, and the entire world.
At first I really loved this story. It's very classical fantasy, with nobility and people with latent power and the end of the world approaching, all of which I enjoy reading. The romance was very sweet, despite Rain and Ellie's magical soul bond, which sounds cheesy but was different from the kind of instalove that annoys me. Though Rain and Ellie are bound at the very beginning, they're not actually in love, and the process of getting to know each other is in some ways complicated by their bond, not to mention Rain's history. At some points the whole concept of the bond seemed a little patronizing – Fey warriors bond in order to protect their women? The feminist in me snarls at this – but for the most part I managed to ignore those feelings.
In the world at large, Rain is the only one who can sense the growing power of the Elden Mages, who once warred with Fey and Celierians alike. But no one is willing to listen to his warnings, attributing the increase in deaths on the border to the Fey. I would have liked to see more of this aspect of the story and a little less of the romance. While it was obvious why the Elden were virtually universally despised, I didn't really understand their motivations. Good-versus-evil stories are sometimes more difficult to do well because it's easy to simply stop with "they're evil" as a basis for actions, which doesn't really work. Fading Lands needed a bit more background to pull it off.
Plus there's only so much sweet romance I can handle. The machinations of the Mages was more interesting, and I wanted to know more about what was happening with the tairen – you know, the problem that started this whole story? – and certain events that took place in the Celierian court.
One small irritation was the unnecessarily invented words. It's fine to make up words if the story includes creatures or concepts that don't exist in English. But since your characters are presumably not actually speaking English (or whatever language you're writing in) there's no need to make up words for "yes," "no," "sorry," and "thank you." They're just a distraction.
Overall, I liked the book. It made me smile and even laugh out loud. It could have used a bit less romance and a bit more of an actual story, because it was kind of lacking in that regard, but it was definitely an enjoyable read, and I'll be sure to read the rest of the series.
In the same aisle
Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon