We have finally come to the final volume in Arc III also known as Alliance of Light Quintet. Stormed Fortress I can only describe as a culmination of shock and awe that will resonate with the reader for the rest of their lives. Janny will hit you with wave after wave of triumph, jaw dropping action regarding the dangers surrounding a siege, and PAIN! I was not able to predict one outcome from this epic which just goes to show you how Janny Wurts keeps her secrets close to the chest until the big reveal. There are several of those moments in Stormed Fortress and I can see why fans say this is the best volume in the series. This will be a spoiler free review but I will be touching upon events from the previous novels.
As you can probably tell by the beautiful cover art, Stormed Fortress almost entirely revolves around a siege. The great citadel of Alestron is the main target of the Alliance after Lysaer learns of the s’Brydion brothers being double agents for the Spinner of Darkness Arithon. Lysaer, still under the gaes of the Mistwraith curse, will stop at nothing to bring down the ancient fortress with the Koriani’s support. Even though the Morriel Prime Seldie has another plan in mind behind the scene.
The s’Brydion brothers will have to fight this battle alone since Arithon has decided to end their bond of protection as he refuses to fight a losing battle and the shed innocent blood. Other forces are at play in Stormed Fortress that will ultimately forces Arithon’s hand to join the fight. Even after destroying the forces of the necromancers at the conclusion of Traitor’s Knot, Arithon’s will once again be thrust into the battle with little to no help from the Seven. Bargains and secrets will come due and will lead us down a path no one will be able to predict.
To say Stormed Fortress is a wild ride is the equivalent of me saying the sky is blue. Right from the first chapter the pacing and action get off to a quick start and will not let up until the final chapter. Hints and clues dating all the way back from The Curse of the Mistwraith will sneak into the main story line as if hidden in plain sight. I realized that it is close to impossible to understand all of the nuances and histories this series has to offer on the first readthrough, but these books were made for a reread! Very much like the epic Steven Erikson says created in Malazan Book of the Fallen.
One final note I would like to discuss is the siege itself. I would say that at least 75% of the story revolves around this siege and Janny will hit you from all angles. From the mustering of the troops, to the battle plans regarding the Alliance and Koriani, to the meetings of the s’Brydion brothers, and everything else at play. All forces will converge on Alestron and for those whom think you have Janny’s story all figured out, you have seen nothing yet!
Stormed Fortress is widely regarded to be the best entry in the War of Light and Shadow series by fans and I would agree. This novel has a snowball effect that keeps on rolling and rolling until it hits you like a Mack truck. With the concluding volume in Arc III now behind me, now is the time to make my way through the series novella’s before I have the stamina to tackle Arc IV. The journey continues and I can finally see the end in sight!