Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl

Today you get a two-fer. First the post I just wrote after stalling on the other post (you'll understand as you read it, Lynn's just too good :)), and then I managed to get my first post to a pseudo end point, so I hope you enjoy both. They take different approaches to the same book.

I finished Shadowlight a decent number of days ago. Long enough that I should have had something to post by now. The trouble is that I liked the dark fantasy novel too much. I know, that sounds stupid, but here it is.

I wanted to write a review that gave a fair assessment of how you'd like the book, that gave enough of a teaser without revealing anything important, and that didn't sound like I was gushing because that sounds fake.

I can't manage it.

Lynn Viehl writes the equivalent of action thrillers with paranormal romance tied in. Her books are candy, or supposed to be. They're easy reads that don't ask anything more than that you are open to the possibility of things unknown and accept the answers she provides. Answers that are all too plausible if you ask me :).

In return, she gives an edge-of-the-seat tale with trouble at every turn and people who learn that everything they thought true just isn't. Oh, and along with this, she gives characters that are three-dimensional to the extreme so you can simultaneously see the story from more than one angle, and understand and sympathize with all the heroes, even when some of them think others are the villains. Lynn doesn't deny you a true villain though. The Kyndred have forces arrayed against them that offer both immediate danger and hint at a greater scenario that will become clear as the series develops.

Shadowlight is a complex layering of characters all with different goals and beliefs that reads as easily as any novel there for pure entertainment but sticks with you afterwards. Whether it's Jessa trying so hard to do the right thing even as she knows she's risking everything, Matthias whose approach is foreign enough to keep everyone guessing, or Lawson's belief in what's due him, there's never any question about depth. This novel builds on the Darkyn world, and even offers cameo appearances (yay!), but the important information is layered in smoothly so new readers should not have difficulty enjoying.

Seriously, if you haven't checked out Lynn Viehl (or S.L. Viehl which is her science fiction pseudonym), you're missing out. Her early books show talent and skill that grows with each one. Shadowlight is even better than the last Darkyn novel, though I no longer think it's a culmination, as that would mean she's stopped improving, which hasn't happened yet. I don't know what else to say. I feel like Sam in Green Eggs and Ham. "Try it, try it and you may, try it and you may, I say :)." It's short and sweet. If you don't like Shadowlight, you haven't lost much in time and energy. However, the more likely scenario is that you will discover a world, a series, and an author who will be delighting you for years to come.


Today I reached the part of Shadowlight that Lynn Viehl includes in every one of her novels...the part I hate. It has something to do with two little words, and a lot of not-so-patient waiting.

Yes, that's right. I have reached "The End."

The bad news is that I now have to wait until the next one (though Lynn did sweetly include a teaser in the ARC), but the good news is that I get to tell you all about it so that you're perched on the edge of your seat, just waiting for release day.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record in this, but with each of her novels, Lynn seems to grow as a writer. The mechanics of this book, especially the beginning, are wonderful, but it's the story that really absorbs me. For those of you who are Darkyn fans, don't despair. You won't feel left out. I think newcomers will have to go in with an open mind, but isn't that always the case? Things in Lynn's world, though they cross over with the traditional, are unique enough that suspension of disbelief is necessary, and worth it.

Shadowlight begins the Kyndred series, focused on a group of people gifted with special strengths. They were mentioned in the Darkyn series, were somewhat crucial to it, but this is not just a continuation of the Darkyn books. Where those books focused on an ancient war between Darkyn and their enemies at the same time as exploring the strife within the Darkyn population, Shadowlight starts out in a place of isolation. The Kyndred are not some secret society that both supports and fights among itself. The Kyndred are an experiment gone wrong and scattered to the winds only to recreate faulty memories bit by bit.

And that's not the only difference. There is no ancient evil here. If this book is characteristic of the new series, the dangers are much more immediate and driven by modern aims rather than hatred. Here you have kidnappings, corporate espionage, and the FBI rather than grudges held over the centuries. It's a fresh start in a familiar world for Darkyn fans.

Go on. Check Shadowlight out. You'll meet a new cast of characters who I hope will continue to show up in the rest of the series, because I'm not ready to break the acquaintance.

Now tell me which you found more useful, please. I'd like to post one in a couple other places too.


David Bridger said...

First one is more useful to me.

And I'll definitely read this book! :)

Margaret said...

Lynn's going to keep you busy for a while :D.

jjmcgaffey said...

I liked both - the second is a better overview (I hadn't picked up that this was the first of a new/linked series from the first one, for one thing), the first one goes deeper into a) the book and b) your reaction to the book (which, since I know how you read and what you like, means a lot in deciding what my reaction is likely to be). Posting in someplace you're less well known, I'd put the second one. If you're reviewing in Visions or on FM, the first.

And you should check out Lilith Saintcrow - the Watchers series in particular. I've just started reading her and the descriptions you're giving fit her pretty well too - so much so that I'm more motivated than usual to hunt out Lynn's books because I'm enjoying Saintcrow's so much.

Margaret said...

Hmm. Yeah, that's kinda what I was worried about. I should figure out how to combine them somehow.

And I've heard the name Lilith Saintcrow before. Once I make a dent in my stacks I'll slip one of hers in.