Friday, February 29, 2008

The Bitterbynde Trilogy: The Battle for Evernight

Close on the heels of The Lady of the Sorrows, I have now read the last in this trilogy.

In this closing book of Imrhein/Rohain/Ashalind she has recalled her previous life and is suffering once again under the Langothe (yearning for the land of Faeran) which may eventually kill her unless she can seek relief from the High King of Faeran himself. She realizes that the unseelie forces have been marshalled under the guidance of the Crown Prince of Faeran, Morragan, and from stories knows that the High King of Faeran, Angavar, is sleeping somewhere on Erith awaiting to be called forth in a time of need.

In her confusion, she decides it is best to seek the gateway to Faeran herself so that she can advise the gatekeeper of the secret word to open the box containing the keys that have locked the doors between the worlds of Faeran and Erith. The gatekeeper can then retrieve the High King and deal with Morragan. Her maids, Viviana and Caitri accompany her on the journey from Huntingtowers, through the Khazathdur forest, watery Irallillir and partway through the orchards of Cinnarine. On their journey they are accompanied by a swan maiden, a urisk and a waterhorse who are all seelie.

The unseelie forces are on the hunt again and The Hunt itself kidnaps Viviana with her dyed golden tresses and Caitri. Rohain/Ashalind abandons her further journey north to the Faeran gateway to try and rescue her friends and so travels east to the country of Namarre and the stronghold of Morragan himself. Here she is quickly discovered and is imprisoned whilst Morragan tries to both fight the armies of the King-Emperor and find out the location of the gateway Ashalind came through. Here she finds out the true identity of Thorn.

Her mind still blocked to the gateway’s location, Morragan eventually fights Angavar and is mortally wounded although he retains some semblance of life as a Raven who is allowed to go free. Thorn and Ashalind are reunited and betrothed and plan to seek the gateway after the coronation of the new King-Emperor.

(I shall refrain from the final ending however!)

It was pleasing to see a decent map included with this book making the journeys of Ashalind easier to follow. I admit to finding myself becoming a tad frustrated with the main character’s undertaking her journey/quests almost on a whim and basically unprepared and had to continually remind myself that this character was only supposed to be a girl of 17, however given her maturity in other aspects, this really annoyed me! Given the complete concentration on Ashalind in this third book, I would have liked to have known something about what was going on in the rest of the land – perhaps the story needed to be written from two perspectives?

I must admit that I was pretty disappointed in the ending. It felt as though it was cut dramatically short, missing the detail evident in the rest of the books. Also the possibility of two alternate (and brief) endings felt rather unsatisfactory. Given the fairy tale quality of the books, I truly wanted to be ensured of a fairy tale ending. Na├»ve of me perhaps but it still doesn’t change such a desire!

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