Darksolstice (Lyonesse #2)

Title: Darksolstice

Author: Sam Llewellyn

Idris has escaped the regent Fisheagle and her son Murther, but the victory feels hollow at best, for his sister Morgan has been taken as a slave to Aegypt. Where Lyonesse and the surrounding countries are struggling against the monsters from Wellworld, Aegypt has creatures that make even the strongest monsters shudder. Idris is determined to rescue Morgan and take back his kingdom. He has until next Darksolstice, when Murther will come of age and inherit the kingdom.

I am still of two minds about the Aurthurian legend in this. Part of me wants this to be a wholly original world, as the names of certain characters like Gawaine and Galahad are a dead giveaway as to their role in the plot. The other part of me really likes the weird way this retelling reshapes all the familiar bits of legend around an inventive world.

I love Idris. He’s polite, kind, and humble, and although he has no idea how he’s going to take back his kingdom, he knows he must. I also liked the Knights. Only a few of them got a chance to grow beyond initial stereotypes, but I liked the flickers of magic in many of them, and the way they each had a particular skillset that is useful and necessary. One of my few regrets is that the Knights don’t get even more time. They are an interesting bunch, but a large chunk of the book has them not here yet, or off doing other things.

The prose feels both lyrical and languid. The pacing felt good all the way through, and the dangers range from action scenes to puzzles. I was surprised at the end, although I had caught the hint that foreshadowed it. It was yet another example of the Arthur legend intersecting in a strange way with the actual book.

This would probably stand decently alone, but several returning characters get virtually no introduction, so it’s better read together with the first book. This does appear to cap off a duology, so everything more or less wraps up. I rate this book Recommended.

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