Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts The Wars of Light and Shadow #3

Prince Lysaer, having been made a fool on at Merior, is out for revenge against his half-brother and the shadow prince Arithon. Lysaer and his warhost of allies will have to travel through the mountains of Vastmark for his revenge while still being under the gaes of the Mistwraith. Arithon has plans of his own to stop the invading forces and not every encounter will end at the tip of a sword. The stage is set for the ultimate battle of wits, might, alliances, and betrayals. The investments you put into this series are starting to be paid back in spades with plenty more to come. I have been told this by Janny on several different occasions and I am going full speed ahead until the end. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be speaking on certain scenes from the first two novels.

Let me state from the beginning that Ships of Merior (book 2) and Warhost of Vastmark were originally published as one complete novel, but eventually split in two at a great stopping point. It would be better for you as the reader to jump straight to Warhost upon the completion of Ships of Merior. It is almost impossible to discuss this series without going into spoilers as perceptions and theories you might have made when completing the first two works will be changed drastically by the end of this book. Characters both primary and secondary will shift their motives, desires, and will only grow on you throughout the story. Small details will come to the forefront in a big way while never feeling too overwhelming. The bigger scope of the Fellowship as well as the Koriani will come into focus and their presence will be felt on both sides of the conflict. I can’t speak enough about how much I enjoyed the writing of this series. Janny is a magician with the pen as the layers of this world are being woven together seamlessly and with the utmost care. You don’t come across works of this magnitude often but when you do, they are a sight to behold!

Character development is where Janny’s words really shine and Warhost is a prime example of this. Multiple times through the course of this novel, my emotions and theories about certain characters were tossed out the window with my heart on my sleeve. I won’t go into everyone, but I would like to talk about two characters who really jumped off the page. The first one is Talith, brother to commander Diegan and wife of Prince Lysaer. Talith was not a character that moved the needle in any direction when I first read about her, but by the end she will be a forever on my radar. This was not done in one big scene but slowly and methodically over the entire novel. The gears in my head will continue to turn until I revisit this world again. The other character I wish to discuss is Tharrick. Once a guard at the s’Brydon Armory, Tharrick was flogged and beaten by the s’Brydon brothers after Arithon set fire to the place killing seven people. Tharrick vowed revenge on the shadow prince and that is where his story begins in Warhost. Tharrick starts as a character driven by vengeance to one of the most complex and determined characters I have come across in a fantasy novel. There is so much more beneath the gruff exterior if you can just peel back the layers. No one will be able to guess his story arc and where he will end up but Janny will not steer you wrong.

Lysaer is driven by the compulsion of the Mistwraith to rid the world of magic influence and he is not afraid to accomplish his task with death and destruction. Arithon is driven by a desire to avoid bloodshed and to bring peace to the lands by other means. These two opposing forces will meet at center stage and it is interesting to see how some tactics may need to be changed before the end. You will experience some of the most shocking and emotionally driven moments in any fantasy book with this series. With seven books left on my plate to be all caught up with the War of Light and Shadow, I have a lot of catching up to do. With Janny as my guide, this will be a series for the ages and one I will revisit for ages to come!

Cheers!

2 Comments

  1. Glad you’ve enjoyed the first three books — wish I could experience them again fresh!

    Without spoilers, I’d like to state that the third Story Arc is even more rewarding than what came before as long as your expectations are tempered for the long haul. The reason is that each Story Arc may span multiple books, and Arc 3 is a whopping 5 books long.

    Think back to Curse of the Mistwraith and remember how the setting and plot are expertly put into place in the first 3/5ths of the book and everything tumbles into an amazing conclusion after that. The same with Ships of Merior / Warhost of Vastmark — even though they are separate physical (or ebook) entities, the story spanning the two books has the same chug-up coast-down trajectory where all of the earlier bits pay off in amazing ways.

    Arc 3 is massive, but I’ve read that many readers get frustrated during Fugitive Prince, Grand Conspiracy, and Peril’s Gate because they feel like the story is spinning out into infinity. This is not the case at all — Peril’s Gate is the top of the roller coaster and Traitor’s Knot / Stormed Fortress is the amazing reward, equal to the final scenes of the Battle at Strakewood or the events at Dier Kenton Vale.

    Should you get antsy in the next few books, just remember that the next 5 books are all part of the same story and have a dramatic arc of their own — trust the author and enjoy the ride!

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I have no quarrels about reading big series as I have read Malazan before, plus Janny is always in my ear steering me in the right direction and head space (literally we talk almost daily). I’m in it for the long haul!

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