Janny Wurts has created something I have seen very few authors do in the fantasy genre and I am in awe of the brilliance and creativity. In the first volume of this 11 book epic fantasy series, Janny builds up an elaborate world, stacked up the history with layers of lore and magic, and laid the ground work for the rest of the series to come. I have also been told by the author that everything I just read has the potential to be turned on its head in many different ways. Not since I have read Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson have I had this much excitement for the novels and revelations to come!
Before I get into all the positives of the novel I will need to touch on some of the shortcomings. This book is challenging and not an easy read to get through. Much in the same way as Malazan, you will need to pay close attention to the characters and the history as they will be important down the road. You must also have faith that the author will deliver on the promises laid out in this series. Although I have only read the first book, I have been told by lifelong fans that Janny Wurts delivers on the buildup and promises but she will make you work for it. You will not be spoon fed the answers like a warm piece of apple pie! Please also note that the middle section of this book is very slow at times and plot mainly focuses on travel, political, and the building up of the threats to the land. Slow burns don’t bother me at all but some readers will find this a major deterrent. I want everyone to be prepared of what to expect.
Now on to all of the positives with The Curse of the Mistwraith. The story revolves around a prophecy that the land of Athera, which currently exist in a state of eternal fog for the past 500 years, will be vanquished by a prince who wields the powers of light and shadow. The prophecy was half right in that the powers are split into 2 half brothers: Arithon is the Master of Shadow and Lysaer is the Lord of Light. The two brothers are accompanied by the Sorcerer Asandir and his apprentice Dakar sometimes refereed to as the Mad Prophet as it is his prophecy which all hope the brothers will fulfill. Asandir takes on the Gandalf type role of the story as the history, lore, factions, and traditions of Athera are told from his perspective. The plot slowly builds to the last 200 pages where the fireworks start and the plot kicks into hyperdrive. I won’t get into spoilers but I’m just letting it be known that the investment has a great payoff at the end.
Janny Wurts writes Curse of the Mistwraith as a high fantasy novel with beautiful and descriptive prose. There will not be info dumps as the tale and histories will be told organically and slowly over the course of the story. Janny also does something very interesting when it comes to switching the character narrative during a chapter. Each chapter is divided into several sections with a new character taking over, but the fun part comes at the end of each chapter. Janny will write 3 short paragraphs detailing an important event taking place in other parts of the world. I found myself referring back to these again and again as you normal expand on that short paragraph in the next chapter. This is a writing technique I have never seen used in this way and it was welcoming to learn something new. Not everything will be answered in this book and the rug will be pulled out from under you (or so I have been told).
I had a great time reading the first book in this epic series. Although The Curse of the Mistwraith asks a lot from the reader and I did struggled at times getting through the middle section, the groundwork has been built and I can see great things coming in future novels. I don’t know when, but I will be continuing with this series and I know Janny Wurts will knock this out of the park! Fans of Malazan will enjoy this series and it is one Under the Radar series I am happy to have started.