From the BLURB:
Faerie king Rain Tairen Soul, a man tormented by age-old grief: a thousand years ago, the woman he loved was slain in battle, and in his rage he laid waste to half the world. Now his people are dying out and the evil mages of Eld are rising again. When Rain hears the call of his lost soul mate, Ellysetta, he journeys to the neighboring kingdom to find her; when he claims a woodcarver's daughter as his mate, he scandalizes the nobility of her country and rouses the interest of Eld's wicked wizards, who come seeking her in order to get at Rain.
I don’t normally read fantasy, unless the word ‘urban’ is in front of it. I don’t have a whole lot of patience for mythological creatures that aren’t vampires and werewolves – and I tend to get frustrated with made-up fantasy worlds, languages and creatures etc. But Mandi of ‘Smexy Books’ fame recommended C.L. Wilson’s ‘Tairen Soul’ series, so I thought I would put my prejudice aside and give it a try… and I’m glad I did.
C.L. Wilson’s series is fantasy – but it’s more fantasy romance. The plot trigger in ‘Lord of the Fading Lands’ is Faerie King Rain Tairen Soul finding his ‘truemate’ after living a thousand years believing he would always be alone. Rain is a ‘tairen’ which is some sort of panther/bird hybrid (to be honest I wouldn’t have known that much if it wasn’t for the book cover’s depiction of Rain’s tairen). Rain is among the last of his kind, and the fey have always believed that tairen’s had no ‘truemate’ – but they are proven wrong when Ellysetta ‘Ellie’ Baristani calls to Rain’s soul.
It’s a very romantic premise – and feels like a fantastical spin on the ‘Cinderella’ fairy tale, as a woodcarvers’ daughter falls for a Faerie King.
The romance is pretty hot and heavy – but it’s also frustrating to read. There’s three weeks until Ellie and Rain’s wedding, and Rain has promised Ellie’s father that there won’t be any coupling until the wedding night. It does get a little bit tedious to keep reading about how much Rain’s tairen beast wants to claim his mate, and how both he and Ellie have to reign in their lust.
He gave a low, deep-chested growl, the warning purr of a stalking tairen, and invisible hands, hot and hard, cupped her through her dress. Invisible lips, firm and silky, tracked a burning path down her neck.
At times it also feels as though Ellie and Rain’s romance comes a little bit too easily. Much is made of the fact that Rain lost his wife a thousand years ago during the Mage Wars, and when he first learns that Ellie is his truemate Rain feels as though he is betraying the memory of his first wife by taking Ellie as his truemate. But that remorse is pretty quickly brushed aside – as is Ellie’s acceptance of the fact that Rain *loved* his first wife, but has no choice in taking Ellie as his truemate.
To begin with I thought the romance had a little too much smooth-sailing – but by books end it becomes pretty clear that in upcoming novels Rain and Ellie will have quite a few hurdles to overcome in their mateship. Because there is a hint at turmoil to come for these two, I was willing to forgive Wilson’s initially glossing over their relationship in this first book.
C.L Wilson is a beautiful writer. It’s a testament to her skill that even though ‘Tairen Soul’ is a series firmly grounded in fantasy, she writes her characters so vividly and makes their inner turmoil so intriguing that the human struggles balance out the heavy fantasy writing.
Battered and bruised, but still fighting for dominance, his was not the selfish, petty pride that made bullies of lesser men, but rather the quiet, determined dignity that turned men into heroes and made heroes crawl back to their feet from the bitter dust of defeat and stand tall once more.
Even when I thought Ellie and Rain’s romance was a tad false, Wilson’s writing was so captivating, and the plot so fascinating that I could forgive that small hiccup in favour of her master storytelling.
I really liked ‘Lord of the Fading Lands’, and fully intend to stick with this ‘Tairen Soul’ series – I have the feeling it’s going to be epic.
Thanks to Mandi for recommending!