Monday, November 21, 2011

Review of Nalini Singh's Lord of the Abyss

Title: Lord of the Abyss (Royal House of Shadows #4)
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Harlequin
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: November 22, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5

The Royal House of Shadows series has been a bit unusual for me. Normally I only read series by one author, but this fall I decided to try two series that switch authors for each book in the series, with mixed results. I reviewed the third book in the Royal House of Shadows series, Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen, and I enjoyed it, but I was really looking forward to the last book by Nalini Singh. She’s definitely written what I consider to be the strongest book of the four, but I was  a little disappointed by the ending.

I actually read this series out of order, and while I normally don’t recommend that, I think you can follow the individual books in this series quite easily, because there are clear prologues that set up the action for each book. Lord of the Abyss reads quite well as a stand alone novel, although I felt it was a bit short.

Just to catch up on the premise of the series, the Blood Sorcerer has taken over the kingdom of Elden, but before he could murder the four royal children, their dying parents used the last of their magic to send the children to different realms for their protection. Lord of the Abyss is the story of the youngest of the children, Micah, who was only 5 years old at the time of the Blood Sorcerer’s attack. Now that 20 years have passed, the royal children have a deadline for all four of them to attack the Blood Sorcerer and regain control of the castle, or Elden will be lost forever.

Liliana is the Blood Sorcerer’s daughter, and the novel begins with her transporting herself into the throne room of the Lord of the Abyss, Micah. He’s responsible for transporting the souls who’ve been condemned to damnation to the Abyss. Liliana, like her father, is a blood sorcerer, but she fuels her magic with her own blood, rather than murdering the innocent as her father does. She’s come to the Abyss to convince Micah that now is the time to return to Elden, but she soon realizes that he’s suppressed his memories of his childhood.

Liliana convinces Micah to allow her to stay by offering to cook for him, and she takes advantage of the opportunity to tell him stories about his childhood so he’ll remember his past. Despite her physical ugliness and a limp, Micah is intrigued by the first woman to defy him and is drawn to her. As their time together progresses, they grown more and more attracted to one another. Liliana has to convince Micah to return to Elden, and she wonders what he’ll do once he realizes that she’s the daughter of his family’s worst enemy.

This is easily my favorite of the four books in the series. Liliana is a fascinating heroine, and despite her belief that she’s weak, she is actually a very strong woman, willing to fight for Micah and right the evil wrought by her father. Micah is a real charmer as well. He frightens everyone in the castle and the nearby village, but in his dealings with Liliana he’s tender and affectionate. I like that he has a strong sense of honor even though he’s been separated from his family for nearly 20 years, and he comes off as a bit spoiled, which made for several lighthearted moments. However, I was disappointed with the twist concerning Liliana’s character at the end, which I felt was unnecessary.

One minor criticism of the novel is that we don’t witness a reunion between the siblings. In each of the books the other siblings are mentioned, and there’s a brief reference to Micah’s brothers and sister towards the end, but we don’t see any interaction between them, which would have made this series-ending novel stronger.

However, this was a fun, short read, and (as always with Ms. Singh) I very much enjoyed her creative world building. The secondary characters were charming, and I loved the small creatures in the castle, while the monsters sent by the Blood Sorcerer were appropriately vile. This is easily my favorite of the series, and I definitely recommend it.

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