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Ships of Merior by Janny Wurts
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4.5 Stars.

I already know I will be re-reading this series and might even bump it up to five stars.

This is the second book in the Wars of Light and Shadow Series. This series will probably turn into one of my favourites. It's a bit early, since there's going to be eleven books, but I'm pretty confident.

I love the characters. Especially Arithon. He's such a wonderful, deeply flawed, character.

Yes, it's dense. Yes, I play the 'old English word I have to look up or a made-up fantasy word?' game a lot as a non native speaker (thank you Kindle for your dictionary!) but the glossary is extremely helpful. The series requires patience and an attentive reader. It is high fantasy!

I love the descriptive prose and it fits the tone of the series. Wurts knows how to write beautifully and there are so many layers to this book. I can't wait to read it all again to find all the things I've missed between the lines.

This second book is easier than the first since the world is a bit more established and the concepts felt more familiar, but it's also a bit slower because it was originally supposed to be a part of a larger volume.

The series offers a richly detailed world, filled with lore and history. It feels like every word is hand picked. If you're a high fantasy fan and enjoy beautiful prose along the lines of Guy Gavriel Kay and Tad Williams, give Wars of Light and Shadow a try. ( )
  Vinjii | Apr 24, 2018 |
A new amazing journey into the world of Athera featuring returning and new characters, several different factions and interests, powerful world-building and a larger-than-life story expertly woven by the never-ending imagination of Janny Wurts, a master of delivering events presented from new angles, whose facets often revise the reader opinions at every new turn.

This book raises the stakes of the story even higher beyond the layout of [b:The Curse of the Mistwraith|28660|The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light & Shadow, #1)|Janny Wurts|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328835513s/28660.jpg|1945432] and it is seamlessly connected with the next book, [b:Warhost of Vastmark|28664|Warhost of Vastmark (Wars of Light & Shadow, #3; Arc 2 - The Ships of Merior, #2)|Janny Wurts|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1315344711s/28664.jpg|29179], which in fact represents the end of this Arc.

The story opens five years after the tragic events in Deshir, the two half-brothers, ripe with their legacy gifts and blessed with longevity by the Five Centuries Fountain, are hopelessly compromised by a deep geas-inspired mutual hatred spawn by tragically different reasons, and carry on with their lives in a so diametrically opposed manner: Lysaer, tall, blond, charming, a master of statecraft and sole repository of the power of Light, with the support of Etarra pushes a common cause and marches to found his new kingdom in Tysan. His sole purpose is to rid the world of Athera, even at the cost of great personal sacrifice, from the threat of the Master of Shadow. Said Master, small and lithe Arithon, conflicted and desolate, after the tragedy of Deshir and the loss of his mage-sight finds a bit of solace in cultivating his greatest gift and in running away from Lysaer and the world, lest he gives in again to the powerful compulsion of the hate-geas imposed by the mysterious and only temporarily tamed Mistwraith.

However, while the scion of the High Kings of Tysan earns the admiration of his natural enemies, the Townborns, and the enmity of the traditional supporters of the Kings rule, the Clanborns, and pursues his strategy of creating an alliance against the Master of Shadow by reconciling city factions and massing his army, his elusive and quiet brother desperately guards his privacy and intentions, with the result that many only perceive "the ironies of Arithon's nature and see nothing beyond surface paradox" and conclude he is a threat to their world’s balance, paramount amongst them Dakar the Mad Prophet, one of the most interesting character of the book.
But indeed the truth is not so simple.
The conflict that is taking shape has a multi-layered quality of complexity, and the reader soon realizes that each party, in championing interests often diametrically opposed, has a moral high ground they adhere to even if it is sorrowfully wrong or misguided. An incredible example of the credibility and effect of this is when, at the demise of a character certainly not loved, I felt regret and sense of loss.

Both warned on their birth world that “the powers of mages and the burdens of a ruler make an incompatible legacy”, the princes keep the tenet at heart. Lysaer hearkens his sire’s words and strives to be a good and compassionate leader, "a mind undivided between the laws that must govern humanity and the uncanny secrets of the mysteries", thus discarding any possibility of redemption of his mage-trained half-brother, taking bitterly upon himself Athera's plight and to pass judgment.
Arithon upholds this sorrow-taught conviction, too. He tries to avoid all conflicts, shunning the help offered by the Clans which feel threatened by Lysaer policy, and painfully tries to hold onto his uncompromising integrity, no matter the cost. But his empathy, his compassion for the suffering of others, which are a great contradiction in his heritage and experience, show a man so damaged that very few can really understand the deep motivations behind his actions.
The princes’ ambivalence foils any attempt to truly frame them, yet no one meeting them is left unchanged, for better or for worse, and such encounters lend new point of views and nuances for the reader to unriddle a part of Arithon and Lysaer inner selves.

Inevitably, the Master of Shadow and the Prince of the West (both extremely gifted and capable of refined subtleties, of masterminding complicated plans of actions and counteractions, to all outer appearances so sure of themselves but indeed far from perfect and heavily burdened by the natural frailty of human character), as their strategies unfold, are going to have a worldwide impact on the warring and magic-wary Five Kingdoms of Athera.
On this layered stage, the Fellowship of Sorcerers, bent on finding a cure for the Mistwraith curse and guarding the future of Athera, fitting the events to their own agenda of neutrality; The Koriani witches, embittered and set on restoring their former glory, locked in a silent rivalry with the Sorcerers and sure of the righteousness of their quest to preserve their World's balance by opposing Arithon’s unpredictability.
To the tapestry of the events are also interwoven the plot threads of single individuals, a bitter widow who is afraid of the sea, two young siblings yearning for their place in the world, a disgraced captain... all their actions count and represent a fundamental element in the story. Not by chance, along with the coherent plot developments and the masterfully managed growing cast of characters, the lines of morality and certainties blur even more, good and evil truly "depend on where you are standing" and the rich twists and surprises sweep away the reader in an incredible variety of settings, landscapes and encounters.

The story never loses focus, simply all the details matter and make for great entertainment; moments of levity and gravity are genially interspersed and concur to the bigger picture (if I thought the mayhem at Jaelot’s gate was hilarious, the scenes in Alestron armory are absolutely precious!).

On the writing style, I will not dwell much, but I will never stop singing the praises of the author's great mastery of language, and her ability to paint scenes and emotions with words. Her stories build slowly, but perseverance is highly rewarded with epic journeys of the utmost intensity.
The more I read, the more I see why Janny Wurts is really a star of fantasy literature. Anyone who loves deep, intriguing, challenging, unique stories with characters who encompass the full spectrum of human nature (not just the bleak, not just the good), able to constantly amuse, surprise and move the reader, cannot absolutely miss her and The Wars of Light and Shadow. ( )
  Alissa- | Nov 28, 2015 |
A new amazing journey into the world of Athera featuring returning and new characters, several different factions and interests, powerful world-building and a larger-than-life story expertly woven by the never-ending imagination of Janny Wurts, a master of delivering events presented from new angles, whose facets often revise the reader opinions at every new turn.

This book raises the stakes of the story even higher beyond the layout of The Curse of the Mistwraith, and it is seamlessly connected with the next book, Warhost of Vastmark, which in fact represents the end of this Arc.

The story opens five years after the tragic events in Deshir, the two half-brothers, ripe with their legacy gifts and blessed with longevity by the Five Centuries Fountain, hopelessly compromised by a deep geas-inspired mutual hatred spawn by tragically different reasons, carry on with their lives in a so diametrically opposed manner: Lysaer, tall, blond, charming, a master of statecraft and sole repository of the power of Light, with the support of Etarra pushes a common cause and march to found his new kingdom in Tysan. His sole purpose is to rid the world of Athera, even at the cost of great personal sacrifice, from the threat of the Master of Shadow. Said Master, small and lithe Arithon, conflicted and desolate, after the tragedy of Deshir and the loss of his mage-sight finds a bit of solace in cultivating his greatest gift and in running away from Lysaer and the world, lest he gives in again to the powerful constraints the hate-geas imposed by the mysterious and only temporarily tamed Mistwraith.

However, while Lysaer scion of the High Kings of Tysan earns the admiration of the Townborns, his natural enemies, and the enmity of the Clanborns, the traditional supporters of the Kings rule, and pursues his strategy of creating an alliance against the Master of Shadow by reconciling city factions and massing his army, his elusive and quiet brother desperately guards his privacy and intentions, with the result that many only perceive "the ironies of Arithon's nature and see nothing beyond surface paradox" and conclude he is a threat to their world’s balance, paramount amongst them Dakar the Mad Prophet, one of the most interesting character of the book.
But indeed the reality, the truth is not so simple.
The conflict that is taking shape has a multi-layered quality of complexity, and the reader soon realizes that each party, in championing interests often diametrically opposed, has a moral high ground they adhere to even if it is sorrowfully wrong or misguided. An incredible example of the credibility and effect of this is when, at the demise of a character certainly not loved, I felt a big regret and sense of loss.

Both warned on their birth world that “the powers of mages and the burdens of a ruler make an incompatible legacy”, the princes keep the tenet at heart. Lysaer hearkens his sire’s words and strives to be a good and compassionate leader, "a mind undivided between the laws that must govern humanity and the uncanny secrets of the mysteries", thus discarding any possibility of redemption of his mage-trained half-brother, taking bitterly upon himself to shoulder Athera's plight and to pass judgment.
Arithon upholds this sorrow-taught conviction, too. He tries to avoid all conflicts, shunning the help offered by the Clans which feel threatened by Lysaer policy, and painfully tries to hold onto his uncompromising integrity, no matter the cost. But his empathy, his compassion for the suffering of others, a great contradiction in his heritage and experience, shows a man so damaged that very few can really understand the deep motivations of his actions. The princes’ ambivalence foils any attempt to truly frame them, yet not one character meeting them is unchanged for better or for worse, and lends new point of views and nuances for the reader to unriddle a part of their inner selves.

Inevitably the Master of Shadow and the Prince of the West, both extremely gifted and capable of refined subtleties, of masterminding complicated plans of actions and counteractions, to all outer appearances so sure of themselves but indeed far from perfect and heavily burdened by the natural frailty of human character, as their strategy unfold are going to have a worldwide impact in the warring and distrustful-of-magic Five Kingdoms of Athera. On this layered stage, the Fellowship of Sorcerers, bent on finding a cure for the Mistwraith curse and guarding the future of Athera, fitting the events to their own agenda of neutrality; The Koriani witches, embittered and set on restoring their former glory, locked in a silent rivalry with the Sorcerers and sure of the righteousness of their quest to preserve their World balance by opposing Arithon’s unpredictability.
To the mix are also interwoven the stories of single individuals, a widow who is afraid of the sea, a disgraced captain... all their actions count, and represent a fundamental element in the tapestry of the story. Not by chance, along with the coherent plot developments and the masterfully managed growing cast of characters, the lines of morality and certainties blur even more, the good and the evil truly "depend on where you are standing" and the rich twists and surprises sweep away the reader in an incredible variety of settings, landscapes and encounters.

The story never loses focus, simply all the details matter and make for great entertainment; moments of levity and gravity are genially interspersed and concur to the bigger picture (if I thought the mayhem at Jaelot’s gate was hilarious, the scenes in the Alestron armory are absolutely precious!).

On the writing style, I will not dwell much, but I will never stop singing the praises of the great mastery of language of the author, and her ability to paint scenes and emotions with words. Her stories build slowly, but after a few chapters, perseverance is highly rewarded with epic journeys of the utmost intensity.
The more I read, the more I see Janny Wurts is really a star of fantasy literature. Anyone who loves deep, intriguing, challenging, unique stories with characters who encompass the full spectrum of human nature (not just the bleak, not just the good), able to constantly amuse, surprise and move the reader, cannot absolutely miss her. ( )
  Alissa- | Jan 14, 2015 |
I liked this more than the previous novel in the series, [b:The Curse of the Mistwraith|28660|The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light & Shadow, #1; Arc 1, #1)|Janny Wurts|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266454455s/28660.jpg|1945432] & that's hard to imagine. Part of the reason is that the world & characters are already set, so Janny could spend more time exploring how the curse played out & the characters. The world expanded & the action increased, too.

There were some things I didn't like, but I can't mention them without making a spoiler review, something I hate. I can say, that what I didn't like were necessary to the story, pieces of a hard life that was masterfully told & just ripped at my emotions - so they weren't 'bad', just heart rending. They heightened the good points to bring more joy, but they weren't easy to take.

Again, the book ended logically & on crescendo of action. There's obviously plenty of room for the story to go on. My hardback edition has both this book & [b:Warhost of Vastmark|28664|Warhost of Vastmark (Wars of Light & Shadow, #3; Arc 2 - The Ships of Merrior, #2)|Janny Wurts|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1232892100s/28664.jpg|29179] together as one book. Since it is a first edition, signed to me by the author, I didn't read it but the paperback which makes two books out of them.

If you liked the Lord of the Rings, I think you'll love this series. If you're used to skimming candy books, be warned that Janny's prose is dense. Each word is polished & set in place like a fine jeweler sets stones. If you skim, you'll miss points, but most of all, you'll miss an almost poetic tale. ( )
1 vote jimmaclachlan | Jun 19, 2013 |
I didn't like this quite as well as the first book in the series, The Curse of the Mistwraith. That said, it's still a great book. As I've come to expect with my forth Janny Wurts read, I was pleased once more to have the payoff with the final climax. Janny sure knows how to close up a story.

It leads right into Warhose of Vastmark, which I've started already. Not with a cliffhanger, but with a tease/sample of things to come. I should note that these two books were originally published and intended to be a single volume, though the close of Ships brings the story together quite well. Of course, it's simply too good to stop there.

There were a few scenes in this book that I loved, but I won't go into specifics here in order to avoid spoilers. I'll save those comments for the various places on GoodReads where the book will be discussed over the next couple of months.

For the most part, Ships felt like a bridge novel, taking the story introduced with Curse and fleshing the world and characters out a little before getting to the really juicy stuff. Time, patience, and a lot of reading will determine whether this hunch is correct. At any rate, I look forward to Warhost and beyond... ( )
  Texas_Reaver | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Janny Wurtsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wurts, Jannyalso cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my husband Don Maitz, with all my love, for understanding of desperate , long deadlines above and beyond the call of duty.
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On the morning the Fellowship sorcerer who had crowned the King at Ostermere fared northward on the old disused road, the five years of peace precariously re-established since the carnage that followed the Mistwraith's defeat as yet shoed no sign of breaking.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When the 1994 hardcover edition of Ships of Merior was published in paperback (and in the UK) it was split into two novels called Ships of Merior and Warhosts of Vastmark. It is impossible at this time to separate the two different books since they have the exact same name and not all members of LT enter ISBNs.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061054658, Mass Market Paperback)

"We look forward to the next three books of this epic." --Realms of Fantasy

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:00 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"And it came to pass, the art of power over light and dark was channelled thgrough two princes: and the fogs that smothered Athera's skies were dispersed. But in defeat, the Mistwraith set its two royal captors at odds under a powerful curse of vengance." - back cover.… (more)

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