Empire of Shadows | Alicia Wanstall - Burke
Title: Empire of Shadows
Series: The Coraidic Saga (Book 3)
Author: Alicia Wanstall - Burke
About the Book
Adrift without an anchor and nursing a broken heart, Lidan steels herself for a task she never thought would fall to her—to hunt down the architect of the horrors that have plagued the South Lands for years.
Ranoth stands on a precipice, his plans in tatters. The path forward leads as easily home as to death. Hungry for answers, he and Lidan set out in pursuit of a common enemy, for dark and fathomless powers are moving beneath the surface of Coraidin.
The unseen realms have awoken and within them, ancient feuds flare to life.
A new and deadly threat looms, and an old bargain will be struck anew. Will Lidan and Ran survive the coming storm to finish what they have begun?
The Empire of Shadows is the final installment of The Coraidic Saga by Alicia Wanstall - Burke, that originally started with The Blood of Heirs, continuing with Legacy of Ghosts and finally ending with Empire of Shadows.
The Coraidic Saga is an interesting fantasy, particularly in relation to structure and how the story comes together. In the first book, Alicia Wanstall - Burke maintains a divergent storyline in relation to the main characters Lidan and Ran. She maintains this divergence until partway through the second book where eventually the two storylines converge and the two main characters join forces.
In this the final part we get the feeling that the story has become more of a joint storyline and we start to tread on familiar ground with a party of individuals rushing towards the goal of stopping the opposing force causing cataclysmic and irrevocable damage to the world as a whole.
However, we still have a multi - pov and in this book we see more of Selen, rather than her being a side character, learning more about her background and also gain an insight into her personality and behaviour.
Structurally, the story itself is quite familiar, particularly within epic fantasy. However, the skill of Alicia Wanstall - Burke is to present a familiar story, but in a method that feels fresh and original.
One of the things that is striking in Empire of Shadows was the human element of the story, and whilst we see the involvement of gods and their machinations in the world come to the fore in this book, Selen's reasons for her actions are portrayed in a much more sympathetic and human reason. In fact to be honest, my sympathies ended up in being more with Selen in this story rather than the main protagonists of Lidan and Ran to be honest. I don't know if this was intentional on Alicia Wanstall - Burke's part or whether it was an adjunctive effect that occurred when we learn more about Selen.
I have to say that for me there was a reversal in some of my sympathies in this book. I can see that Alicia Wanstall Burke was attempting to create nuance and understanding for Selen, but I actually became more invested in Selen's story and felt a little bit disassociated from the main protagonists, and in actual fact whilst obviously I didn't want to see her destroy the whole world, I really did want her to succeed in her main goal. It's just unfortunate that the end result would lead to the other, so she has to be stopped.
Selan is such an interesting character, so full of rage. We get the palpable sense that she wants to burn the world and damn the consequences. In fact for me, the inclusion of Selen's point of view is what elevates the book and I think I may have been a little disappointed if I had been solely following Lidan and Ran in all honesty.
We also get the inclusion of Thanie as a character, and now that we see her in her true light we discover the true potential as both an ally and as opposition to Selen's plans to destroy the world. Thanie is a good inclusion into the story as she becomes a kind of mentor to the rag tag group and particularly Ran. She shows him the potential of his powers but also toughens him up for the task in hand. However, not only that, Thanie becomes an effective device for explaining Selan's motivations and intentions and we learn more of Selan's driving forces through Thanie.
All in all I enjoyed this culmination of The Coraidic Saga and applaud Alicia Wanstall Burke for taking the story in a different direction than the one expected. Yes there were some bits that didn't work, but I find that a lot of my favourite books are not perfect in every way, and that's why I like em.