Book Review : The Wounded Shadow
The Darkwater Saga #3
By Patrick W. Carr
The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, desperate to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the desperate into its shadow, creating a growing army held in its sway. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an old enemy and find an answer far worse than they could have imagined.
Danger stalks the cities of the north, striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek to find answers, the group is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. Will they discover a path to keep their land safe, or will an ancient evil reclaim the world it once called its own? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I think one of the hardest challenges of a series like The Darkwater Saga is pulling everything together to create a satisfying ending. I feel like Carr does a great job answering questions I’ve had since the very beginning while still leaving some elements a mystery. I will not discuss all of the conclusions because it’s better when read.
Characters are key for a book. We have to like some, hate some and know their quirks and personalities. Once members of the urchins joined the Vigil, the way opened up for all kinds of exciting dialogue, events and turns. In addition, we can see a lot of character growth in them and how they affect the members of the Vigil. I’m just going to touch on a few of the characters, but they help show the complexity of this epic fantasy series.
Mark, the chosen apprentice of Pellin (Eldest in the Vigil), has struggled through the series because he witnessed man’s inhumanity to man as an urchin. He saw the falseness of the priests directed by the church. Vigil members have felt like he was disrespectful and didn’t belong. Pellin discovers Mark’s depth of humanity as he cares for Elieve, the first to rebuild a personality after a vault was destroyed within her mind. Further, the Eldest realizes that Mark is the way he is because of his depth of belief in Aer (God) compared to the shortcomings of those who profess to follow Aer.
Cesla, the former Eldest of the Vigil, started the entire epic battle with the Darkwater forest – which is really the ancient, poisonous god-like entity imprisoned within the forest. More than Cesla’s character, the thoughts of how the other characters perceive him is interesting. Obviously, Pellin recognizes his hubris to believe he could access the power, but over time Pellin also can still feel love for his brother instead of hatred. I also felt like Willet could pair his deep sorrow with compassion for the man and his mistakes.
Willet, the main protagonist, started as being recalcitrant and glib, now he is humble and devoted to stopping the evil of the Darkwater forest. Through the course of the series there were several key events that changed Willet’s perspective. The first has to be receiving the gift of domere. The gift changed the course of his life. Second is the love of his fiancé, Gael. Willet felt he wasn’t worthy to be loved, and yet her love supersedes the bounds he had come to expect. The next forces of change are his interactions with Ealdor, the priest he communed with. Willet is first devastated to discover Ealdor is a product of his mind, and then is justified when it is revealed that he is from the Fayit – the previous god-like race which inhabited their earth. Working with the Fayit, and witnessing Ealdor’s sacrifice teaches Willet to be humble. Willet also learns to forgive when he thinks of Volsk as a friend, even though this man had previously tried to kill him. Forgiveness is a theme found in many works of classic literature.
Bolt has always been an enigma. Even though we learn more about his role as an Errant, he remains reticent to interact with others. He is probably the least changed of the characters because he had gone through his growth as a person prior to this series. I like him because he expects the worse and stirs the pot, at least in regards to Willet. He also snookers Rory into working harder to train as a guard, which had me laughing. Bolt has a dry sense of humor.
Toria Deel, who was so opposed to Willet, goes through another personal crisis, while working with Brekana and recognizes she doesn’t feel worthy to be a leader within the Vigil. She comes to realize that Willet makes choices based on his moral code and she loses her distrust of him. Toria Deel and Fess also come to a better understanding and the reader is left with a hope for something better in both of their lives. Fess moves from being critical of Toria Deel, to understanding her actions, and gives her comfort in his lack of condemnation. Toria wonders how an urchin could offer such grace in complete amazement.
Even minor characters like King Rymark are transformed. He no longer has a thirst for war after the battle against the Darkwater that stole so many lives. Jeb, the prison guard from The Shock of Night, is happy raising his adopted daughter. Custos is one of the few characters that feels exactly the same, he loves knowledge and a packet of figs.
I highly recommend Carr as an author for anyone who loves fantasy and a story well-told. I consider the prequel, By Divine Right, for The Darkwater Saga to be a must, it’s a short gem. He is also the author of The Staff and the Sword series, which you won’t want to miss. Check out A Cast of Stones! It’s one of my all-time favorites.
5 out of 5 stars
- the Mother
Fans of Brandon Sanderson will enjoy Patrick W. Carr’s books and vice-versa.
I would also recommend trying Cinda Williams Chima, The Demon King and Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron. An older book to read, with a similar theme of forgiveness is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.