"Thrilling fantasy of light and dark!"
Shadrael tu Natalloh and what men he still has left are
hiding out in an inn in his brother's territory. The type of
inn he wouldn't have been caught dead in when he was still a
donare in Emperor Kostimon's Army. Of course, that was
before the Light Bringer killed Kostimon and discharged
Shadrael, without honor or benefits. So this inn is what he
has been reduced to.
When his brother Vordachai comes by to hire Shadrael for a
mission, Shadrael is more than cautious. Turns out,
Vordachai planned to hire Shadrael and his men to capture
Lady Lea—beloved sister of the Light Bringer and thereby,
Shadrael's enemy as well — on her way to Trau. Since
Vordachai has tried to get his territory's independence from
the Emperor since their father died, Shadrael thinks his
brother is a fool and will only end up being killed for his
trouble. As he listens to Vordachai's plan, Shadrael has to
admit, it's a good one and so he decides to accept his
brother's money and carry out the mission.
Lady Lea E'non is desperate to leave Court and so when her
brother needs someone to represent him in Trau—where she was
born—Lea volunteered. Of course, Caelan—her brother and
Emperor—has no idea Lea plans on staying there and not going
back to him. Lea has a special talent—she can communicate
with spirits of the elements and they leave her gifts of
jewels, and when she is moved to tears, she cries pearls. To
strengthen her powers, Lea wears a necklace of gli-emeralds.
Instead of staying on the main roads as he was supposed to
do, Captain Hervan—the man in charge of the cavalry unit
assigned to escort Lea to Trau—decided to take a short cut
when he came across a burning village. Now, Lea's litter is
stuck in the mud. Having had more than enough, Lea calls her
protector, Thirbe, and decides to ride for a while. And so
she does, accompanied by some of the Cavalry, her
attendants, and Thirbe. When they run across some ruins,
Hervan decides to rest until the litters can catch up to
them. Of course, Lea feels the quai of the area is off and
when she refreshes herself at a stream, the water spirits
warn her of impending danger and leave her an opal—the jewel
of sorrow. Lea has no intention of taking the jewel and so
she leaves it there, only to have her ladies take it.
Instead of returning the jewel where Lea left it, they take
it. Lea wants to leave immediately. Just when she gets
mounted on her gelding, they are attacked.
After the battle and Lea is captured, the leader of the
mercenaries takes Lea into the hidden ways — a land of
shadow. While there, Lea happens to touch her captor and
through servaisin, Lea knows her future lies with Shadrael —
a man of the shadows.
How can Lea be tied to such a sad, dark man? Will she betray
her brother for her future with Shadrael? What are
Shadrael's plans concerning Lea and Caelan?
THE PEARLS is a thrilling fantasy, full of light and dark.
Deborah Chester did a wonderful job of pulling me into the
story. While this book can be read without reading THE RUBY
THRONE series, I really feel it would have been better if I
had. I didn't get lost or have trouble following the story ,
but there were references, especially to the magical terms,
I would have understood much better if I had read the
While Lea is everything light and good, Shadrael is her
exact opposite — dark, brooding, and full of sorrow.
Watching these two interact and seeing how Lea influences
Shadrael — good and bad, is fascinating. I can't wait to see
if Lea manages to redeem Shadrael or not. And what Lea's
brother does. All in all, a good story and one I'd recommend
to all lovers of fantasy.
Reviewed by Chere Gruver
Posted April 23, 2009
Continuing with some of the characters in THE RUBY THRONE trilogy recently reissued by Ace Books, THE PEARLS is the first of a two-book story featuring Lea, sister to the new emperor Caelan Light Bringer, and her tribulations when she is abducted by his political enemies. Her captor is Shadrael, an embittered former legion commander who lost his army commission under the new regime. Turned vicious mercenary, Shadrael remains sworn to shadow and lives as a bandit entangled by his past. All he has to do is capture Lea and carry her off to where she’ll be held for ransom. But nothing is simple. More than one villain wants possession of Lea and all are competing to pay Shadrael well for her delivery. Lea herself is no ordinary damsel. Her sweet nature and beauty enthrall him, even as her magic drawn from light repels his drawn from shadow. What should be a quick mission stretches into one that’s complex and dangerous, as enemies close in from all sides. For Shadrael’s tricks to dodge pursuit are thwarted again and again by Lea, and all the while her brother’s soldiers are hot on their trail, intent on rescuing her before she comes to harm.