by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Submissive to her father’s will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves–Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country.
But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta’s tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war.
And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice…and for the one person who can wield it.
Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, and STARFLOWER, with DRAGONWITCH due to release in 2013. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award.
Dragonwitch is almost as good as Starflower was. I say almost because, although it had a host of characters with their own foibles and dreams, I was less inspired by them than by Starflower, whose primary 'superpower' was her compassion (which is awesome). I love that Anne Elisabeth extended and expanded the tale of Hri Sora- I always find well-written villains to be compelling. And the double-edged sword of love (and faith, and forgiveness) is well-explored in this book.
My only criticism was with Corgar, who I felt was a villain that she started to delve into, but then abandoned that side plot. And in truth, I wanted to see more of him- a brute who was made brutal by a lack of love, beauty, or compassion in his world, but who longed for these things although he couldn't identify him. I found that more engaging than the Chronicler's constant self-doubt (I recognize low self-esteem and the handicap that it is, but at a certain point I start losing respect for characters who question themselves that much).
I haven't read any other books in this series, aside from Starflower, but I really want to. Anne Elisabeth is consistent in her complete characterization, and in delving into the nature of good versus evil, and what power truly is. There are spiritual arcs within her stories, but they're woven so well into the story itself that I don't find myself turned off to the book by them.
Overall, I would recommend Dragonwitch to anyone who has read any of her other novels, fans of medieval-esque fantasy, fans of the 'good' vs 'evil' grey areas, and those who enjoy cats. Because, truly, Eanrin is FABULOUS.
Anne Elisabeth's Interview:
1. Which character in
the series is most like you?
You know, all of the characters are a little piece of me, so
that’s hard to say. I’d like to say
I’m most like Imraldera, since, like her, I am very earnest, hard-working, and
focused. But I’m also quite a bit like Princess Una—I stutter when I’m nervous,
tend to get fixed on my own way, and am a romantic daydreamer at heart. I’m
also quite a bit like Lady Leta—my people-pleaser side often does battle with
my more rebellious side.
2. As a writer, how
do you organize the mythology and characters to keep from forgetting or misrepresenting
them in successive books?
I have been working on this series and world for so many
years now, I really don’t think too much about the mythology. It’s all so
firmly engrained in my mind, as real to me as my “real” life. But I do keep
numerous documents on file for reference, a timeline and various notes on the various
worlds. Seriously, though, I don’t often reference these. My brain is just
wired to work with all things Goldstone Wood!
Thanks for answering my questions, Anne Elisabeth. See you in Goldstone Wood!
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