While most of Jeff Wheeler’s books feel very similar to me, and it’s really more about the atmosphere and feel of his books than the actual stores themselves as far as I’m concerned, there is always a commonality. His heroes and heroines are all “every man” and “every woman.” They’re straightforward, earnest, integrous, and deeply good. They know who they are, and they follow The Medium (or the Fountain, depending on which world we’re in, though the two are interconnected and they both refer to God.) They quote the tomes, which are basically the Bible, by a different name. They forgive, they love, they fight for what is right regardless of personal cost. They’re a throwback to a different era, but it works because they’re also set in a different world–one in which people speak in long form, almost poetically, rather than in slang or shorthand.
This is the culmination of Eilean and Hoel’s story, which intertwines with King Andrew’s (who is basically King Arthur). I’m glad we revisited King Andrew because I didn’t feel satisfied with how he was rendered in earlier books–the story had felt unfinished. Another thing about Jeff Wheeler books is that I never have a clue where I am in the time sequence of his world, but that usually doesn’t matter either, ultimately. I guess by the fact that these are called “Dawning” and Kingfountain doesn’t even exist yet, that these must be the prequels of all prequels, and we learn at the end of this story that Eilean eventually fades in myth to become the Lady of the Lake (or I think here they called her the Lady of the Fountain.) It’s an interesting twist, as I always thought of her as the evil character who bound Merlin in the original Arthurian legends, but in this one she is definitely good through and through. In this version, Queen Genevieve doesn’t actually cheat on Andrew with his best knight, but she’s falsely accused, while Andrew becomes corrupted by deceit, and this leads to his downfall.
As I’m writing a high fantasy novel now myself, in which I start with loose threads of a real character and then try to create a fictional world around him, I’m now much more impressed with Wheeler’s ability to retain creativity while borrowing from legend. Even so, I only gave this one four stars because somehow I never came to really care about the characters much, so their victories at the end didn’t really do it for me. I can’t quite say why. Maybe I’ve read too many of the same type of story?
My rating: ****
Sexual content: none
Violence: fantasy only
Political content: none
Leave a Reply