Sunday, February 05, 2012

Review - The Lord of Illusion

The Lord of Illusion
Kathryne Kennedy
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
February 2012

He dreams of her, a woman with amazing multi-colored eyes and pale hair. He’s dreamed of her for years. And loved her for just as long. Lord Drystan Hawkes has yearned to be a hero like the heroes in the books he’s loved all his life. He would be the hero to save the day, to rescue his people from their enemies and his lovely vision of a woman with multi-colored eyes…well, she would love him as much as he loves her. But the strange affliction he’s had since the arrival of the elven scepters has kept him alone and bound to the magical items brought from ensorcelled England to the dungeons of the castle in Wales. He searches the records for any sign of her but all he finds is her name and the fact that she’s the child of a white witch and may have the key that will return the elves to Elfhame. Only Sir Giles and Lady Cecily (The Lady of the Storm) know of his dreams and even they don’t know all of them.

When Lord North, the Prime Minister arrives, to tell them of the Rebellion and how Roden, the Lord of Dreamhame plans to retaliate against the half-breed who usurped the sovereignty of Verdanthame, Drystan knows his time has come. He must be the one to go to Dreamhame and rescue Camille Ashton, the child of the white witch, the woman with the multi-colored eyes.

Camille has been a slave since childhood but she’s never been enslaved. With her indomitable will she has managed, twice, to rise above herself to work with the aristocracy, first as a nursemaid, then as a lady’s maid. But when Roden, Lord of Dreamhame kills the elderly woman who Camille served, she finds herself back in the slave quarters. Back to a life of degradation, of beatings and rape. She is lashed until her back bleeds and barely manages to crawl back into the closet she used to share with Molly, her friend and fellow slave. Molly dresses her back but when Camille realizes the soldiers will soon come looking for entertainment, she flees to the stables. Unfortunately, she’s caught by two soldiers before she can hide. Desperation makes her fight back. She grabs a pistol from one of the guards and shoots him. For a slave to touch a weapon is a killing offense. Camille doesn’t care. She can’t bear being raped and beaten anymore. She’s finally had enough. There’s no more fight in her; she wants to die.

Then Drystan arrives and stops the guards. He carries her to his apartments inside Dewhame castle and summons a healer to tend to her damaged back. He recognizes her under her dirt and stench but realizes she doesn’t know him. He also realizes he’ll have to take it easy with her since she can’t bear a man’s touch.  When she recuperates she discovers, he’s fought the slave master her lashed her and was injured in the process. As she tends him back to health, she worries about finding him so attractive. As she spends more time with him, he begins to win her trust and that worries her. A slave can’t afford to rely on someone else for their safety. She begins planning an escape because she knows that she can’t return to the slave quarters again.

This third book in the Elven Lord series by Kathryne Kennedy is another MUST READ. Kathryne has created a world of imagination so vibrant that it screams into life on the pages and takes the reader by the heart. I could barely put this book down once I started reading it. Drystan is a wonderful hero with self-deprecating, subtle humor. Even more, he has the heart of a dauntless hero, honorable and true. Yes, all good heroes have those qualities but, in Drystan, they’re intrinsically part of him. Camille, too, is a wonderful character. The reader can feel her pain, her misery and fear. Yet, there’s a core of steel inside this woman that keeps her going even when she’s ready to give up. That’s admirable above all things.

The plot is another marvel of twisty, turny, thorny problems that create all good quests. Ms Kennedy has mastered the art of creating a good, old-fashioned quest plot filled with derring-do and romance and angst and fantastical creatures. I highly recommend this book (and the first two) to any reader who loves fantasy romance. It won’t disappoint.

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