Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Shadows and Light

by Anne Bishop


The second book in the Tir Alainn trilogy, Shadows and Light, marks a change of style for Anne Bishop. Not quite as gleefully, graphically violent as her other work, this book nevertheless makes for some uncomfortable reading.

The women in the eastern counties continue to be repressed as the barons consider ever harsher decrees to keep them in check. Witches are still being slaughtered and anyone who speaks out is liable to share their fate. A climate of fear is spreading. Book burning and anti-female propaganda are just some of the milder sanctions taken against women.

Aiden and Lyrra, the Bard and the Muse, are travelling across country and through Tir Alainn. They are trying to warn people about the Inquisitors, but not everyone will listen to them. They encounter apathy, disbelief and arrogance from the Fae. The rulers of the Fae, Dianna and Lucian, are intent on denying their responsibility for the crisis.

Shadows and Light introduces Liam, the young Baron of Willowsbrook who means to be a different sort of baron than his father was. He has to travel to the baron's council and vote on the latest proposals to limit women's lives. This isn't fantasy as escapism, it has a purpose. Most of the atrocities committed against women in this book are not just pure fantasy but are things that have happened in the real world, some of which are still taking place. This gives the story added resonance, but Anne Bishop doesn't let the feminist message detract from it's pace.

The Witches' Hammer, Adolfo, has gained a new and equally cruel deputy, known as Ubel. His Black Coats have regrouped and are growing in power and influence. There are more of the deadly nighthunters around, and an ominous feeling builds up throughout the book. Although there are plenty of relationships in Shadows and Light, it has less in the way of romance than Anne Bishop's other work but more action and magic, and on the whole a darker tone.

As the middle book in a trilogy it doesn't come to much of a conclusion, instead building up the suspense. There are a myriad of characters and overlapping threads, such as Breanna the feisty witch to Padrick, the western baron with a secret. There's a depth and richness to this book that distinguishes it from other fantasy and means that the Tir Alainn trilogy deserves attention.

Book Details

Year: 2002

Categories: Books


If you like this, try:

Luck in the Shadows cover    

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling
A fantasy featuring Alec of Kerry and the roguish Seregil of Rhiminee. Book one of the Nightrunner series.

5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Anne Bishop

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