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**Please note**this review touches on events that occurred in previous books in the series – thus potential SPOILERS for the previous books.**
 
“Carved stone acquired what seemed the reactive semblance of life. The figures enshrined in the Chamber of Renown bespoke courage that defied indelible loss and despair; the terrible scope of blood sacrifice that preserved the mysteries across the turbulence of three Ages. The towering might of the centaur guardians reared with raised lances against the monstrous scourge of Searduin, and predatory swarms of winged Khadrim. Storied heroes, distanced by legend, depicted the triumph of peace, muscled forearms crossed in salute over the peacock enamel of their blazoned breastplates. Others bound to safe-guard the forests stood foursquare, antlered heads lifted to wind the clarion blast of their dragon-spine horns. The endurance chiselled into stern features mapped the bygone millenia prior to Mankind’s inaugural settlement.”
 

It was an enormous privilege to receive an ARC of this astonishing book from the author, not one that I can easily put into words.

 
To be able to read, prior to actual publication, one of the most anticipated finales ever written in a fantasy series, a book that is five decades in the making, and the last installment in what is an iconic series, by who I hold as one of fantasy’s greatest living authors, makes on feel that one is part of the history of the genre, in my very paltry, insignificant way. Yet, the feeling pervades. 
 
It is a feeling I will never forget for the rest of my life, and I am deeply humbled to have experienced it.  
 
In terms of the review itself, I believe all would acknowledge, at this point in the series, of course, everything is a spoiler. And if you are reading this review, you have more than likely read all the previous ten books in the series prior to “Song of the Mysteries”. 
 
There will, no doubt, be thousands of far better reviews of this book that come after mine. Doubtless, many of those reviews will touch more upon what takes place in the narrative.
 
I will say, however, that the characterization, plot, themes, worldbuilding, prose, is that all are, and as they have been throughout the series, masterful.
 
So, I will write this review more for those who perhaps have not read this series yet, or anything by this author. 
 
Thus, I will do something different in this review. I will be giving you somewhat of a character/name/place list of the main characters (or objects, or words/titles of significance) who – either alive or dead at the time of this book – will still define the stunning outcome of the book. This list will also serve as somewhat of a tribute to the brilliance of these characters, and the fabulous elements of the novel and series, created by this incomparable author.
 
Additionally, it is my hope that by providing such a list, it will give some small sense the staggering depth, breadth, enormous and fascinating scope of the universe, the immense history and lore that Wurts’ has created with her worldbuilding, and entice readers to become lost in it all, just as I, and millions of readers have, and no doubt will be, for many years to come. 
 
This list is taken from the glossary in the rear of the book, and edited and abbreviated somewhat, especially so as not to give away too much of the overall plot. 
 
ALITHIEL – one of the twelve Blades of Isaer, forged by centaur Ffereton s’Darian from a meteorite.
 
ARITHON – son of Avar, Prince of Rathain, 1504th Teir’sFffalenn after founder of the line, Torbrand in the Third Age Year One. Also Master of Shadow, the Bane of Desh-thiere, and Halliron Masterbard’s successor. 
 
ASANDIR – Fellowship Sorcerer. Secondary Name, Kingmaker, since his hand crowned every high king of Men to rule the Age of Mankind (Third Age). Acting field agent for Fellowship affairs across the continent. 
 
ATH CREATOR – prime vibration, force behind all life.
 
ATHLIEN PARAVIANS – sunchildren, dancers of the crystal flutes. Race of semi-mortals, pixie-like, but possessed of great wisdom/keepers of the grand mystery.
 
BIEDAR – Tribal people living in Sanpashir, Shand, known as the Keepers of the Prophecy. 
 
CATHDEIN – Paravian name for a high king’s first counsellor, charged with oversight and integrity of crowned royalty’s fitness to rule; would also stand as regent, or steward, in the absence of the sanctioned sovereign. 
 
CANON LAW – doctrine of the True Sect, faction of the Religion of Light split away from the Alliance at the Great Schism in the Third Age.
 
DACE MARLEY – in service as a valet to Lysaer s’Ilessid.
 
DAKAR THE MAD PROPHET – apprentice to Fellowship Sorcerer Asandir, Master Spellbinder and gifted seer.
 
DALIANA – Asandir’s chosen heir to the s’Gannley lineage.
 
DAVIEN THE BETRAYER – Fellowship Sorcerer responsible for provoking the great uprising in Third Age 5018, which resulted in the fall of the high kings after Desh-thiere’s conquest. Exiled, by personal choice.
 
DESH-THIERE – Mistwraith that invaded Athera from the splinter words through Southgate in Third Age 4993. Imprisoned by Lysaer s’Ilessid’s gift of light and Arithon s’Ffalenn’s gift of shadow in Third Age 5638, and contained under wards in the shaft of Rockfell Pit.
 
DRAKE SPAWN – life created, or altered in from, by the dreaming of Dragonkind.
 
ELAIRA – initiate enchantress of the Koriathain, healer. Arithon’s beloved, handfast to Rathain in Third Age 5672.
 
FELLOWSHIP OF THE SEVEN – Sorcerers bound to Athera by the summoning dream of the Dragon Protectorate anc charged to secure the mysteries that enable Paravian survival. Originators and keepers of the covenant of the compact allowing Mankind’s provisional settlement on Athera in Third Age Year One. Their authority backs Charter law, upheld by crown justice and clan oversight of the free wilds. 
 
ILITHARIS PARAVIANS – centaurs, of Athera’s three semi-mortal old races; defenders and guardians of earth’s mysteries who dwindled after the Mistwraith’s conquest, departed the continent to take sanctuary. 
 
KORIATHAIN – female order of enchantresses headed by a Senior Circle, ruled by the absolute will of a Prime Matriarch. Selective talent is acquired from orphaned children, or from daughters dedicated to service by their parents, with ranked initiation and a vow of consent that shackles the spirit to a crystal keyed to the Prime’s control.
 
LATHIEN s’IDIR – clanborn woman from Fallowmere, mother of Siantra s’Idir.
 
LAW OF MAJOR BALANCE – primary tenet of the Fellowship of Seven: no force of nature shall be applied without conscious free-will consent. 
 
LIRENDA – demoted First Senior Enchantress of the Koriani Order.
 
LUHAINE – Sorcerer of the Fellowship of the Seven, discorporate. 
 
LYRANTHE – instrument with fourteen strings, tuned in courses to seven tones: two drone strings’ set to octaves, and five melody strings, the lower three course pitched octaves, and the upper two in unison. 
 
LYSAER s’ILESSID – prince of Tysan, 1497th in succession since Halduin found the line in Third Age Year One. Gifted at birth to wield elemental Light, known as the Bane of Desh-thiere and Blessed Prince, self-styled as divine avatar of the Alliance of Light. 
 
MORRIEL – Prime Matriarch of the Koriathain.
 
MOTHER DARK – tribal name for the all-knowing, all-encompassing stillness of the void that is untapped, virgin power, the latent and limitless state of potential that precedes the imprinted act of creation.
 
MOLTS – young dragons who have left the nest, immature and sexless until they mate as adults
 
NAILS – nickname for a True Sect divinder influential with the Light’s war hosts.
 
OZVOWZARKIN – heir apparent to Chaimistarizog, Guardian of the Northgate and keeper of the Treaty Accord between the Dragon Protectorate and wild drakes exiled to the splinter world, Sckaithehn Duin.
 
PARAVIA – continent originally inhabited by Paravians, and local of the Five Kingdoms. 
 
PARAVIAN – continent and name for three semi-mortal races inhabiting Athera before Mankind. Centaurs, sunchildren and unicorns emboy the world’s channel, or direct connection, to Ath Creator.
 
PRIME MATRIARCH – head of the Order of the Koriathain by ninth-rank initiation.
 
PROTECTORATE – elder dragons rallied from defeat at close of the First Age to defend Paravian sovereignty from Dragonkind’s murderous creation of drake spawn and Methurien, allied with the Paravian Concord to stabilize peace, and arbitrators of the Treaty Accord exiling wild rogues to the splinter worlds of Sckaithen Duin past Northgate. Engendered the Second Dreaming of Corith that bound the Fellowship Sorcerers. 
 
REIYAJ SEERESS – titled seeress sequestered in a tower in Shand, near Ithish, with oracular visions. Born sighted, until practice of her art causes blindness, her tradition stems from the mystical practice of the Biedar tribe in the Sanpashir desert. 
 
RIATHAN PARAVIANS – unicorns, the living bridge whose undilute connection with Ath Creator channels the prime vibration through the horn. 
 
ROCKFELL PEAK – mountain in West Halla, Mehlhalla, holds Rockfell Pit, prison for harmful entities throughout three Ages, and warded containment for the Mistwraith, Desh-thiere
 
SCKAITHEN DUIN – called Fortress of Dragons, splinter world accessed by the North Worldsend Gae, where dissident dragons against Paravian sovereignty of Athera are in exile under the Dragon Protectorate’s Treaty Accord.
 
SEARDLUIN – drake-spawned predator, first dreamed as slayers to prey upon rival drakes’ clutches for territorial enforcement in the Era of Destruction. When ungovernable bloodlust spurred their thirst for etheric death, they turned to rogue slaughter in vicious packs. In the Age of Nightmare, they killed drakes in hibernation, evolving the imperative to cocoon in stone for safety. Hunted to suppression by the Dragon Protectorate, resurgent outbreaks occurred through resonant concordance on Paravia and Mhorovaire, until they were battled to extinction, costing death to High King Kidron First Elrienient in the Second Age 7915.
 
SESHKROZCHIEL – female dragon once mated to Haspastion. 
 
SETHVIR – Sorcerer of the Fellowship of the Seven, allotted the earth-link and appointed Warden of Althain in the Third Age 5100, when the last centaur guardian Tehaval withdrew after the Mistwraith’s conquest. 
 
SIANTRA S’IDIR – daughter of Laithen s’IDIR.
 
TARENS – townborn crofter from Kesling. Liegeman to Prince Arithon.
 
TEIRENDAEILIENT MEREVALIA – High Queen Regent of Paravia, sunchild. 
 
TRAITHE – Sorcerer of the Fellowship of the Seven, single-handedly closed Southgate to curtail the Mistwraith’s invasion in Third Age 4993, at the crippling loss of his greater faculties. 
 
TREATY ACCORD – agreement forged by the Fellowship Sorcerers and the Dragon Protectorate that binds the exile of drakes who refused to honour the Concord granting of sovereignty of Athera to the Paravians. The factions in dissent reside on Sckaithen Duin, the splinter world beyond Northgate, bound under law not to threaten or harm Athera or damage the weal of the mysteries. 
 
TRUE SECT – branch faith of the Religion of Light reformed by the Great Schism, when the Light’s divine avatar turned apostate to Canon doctrine in Third AGe 5683.
 
VERRAIN – Lisianne’s beloved, apprenticed to Luhaine to curb Methspawn; achieved Master Spellbinder and charged as Guardian of Mirthlvain by the Ilitharis Paravians after the Mistwraith’s conquest. 
 
There can be no doubt, in my estimation, that “Wars of Light and Shadow” is a signal work in the field of epic fantasy fiction. “Songs of the Mysteries” places a blistering capstone on the career of Janny Wurts, cementing the esteemed legacy of this author in a resounding way, with the completion of her Magnum Opus. 
 
This book was earth-rending, dark, tragic, beautiful, uplifting, filled with strife and war, the ever looming threat of apocalypse, reckless, unrestrained ambition and power, fury, revenge, loyalty, scheming, incredible sacrifice and heroism, loss, and in the end, redemption, and triumph, but not without great cost.  
 
When the Song of the Mysteries plays, you will be completely amazed and dazzled, as the elder powers emerge.
 
As I end this review, I once more make a last comment about Wurts’ prose.  

I understand that for some, Wurts’ prose may be too much of a good thing. For me, simply put, it is a thing of extreme beauty, a revelation. To say it is evocative is a paltry compliment. Her style of writing is classical, lyrical, poetic at times, stuffed full of detail, description, subtleties. You can read and appreciate the writing for its sheer loveliness, but in truth, you would literally be missing out.

That is because Wurts weaves clues to sub-plots or major plot points, innuendoes, sometimes even double-meanings into her words, that if the reader fails to pay attention – either completely mesmerized by the prose itself, or overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of it – things will be missed, and misunderstood. There is such delight in the way Wurts writes, that I know I will be re-reading all the books contained in “The Wars of Light and Shadow”, including “Songs of the Mysteries” many times over the rest of my life, just for the loveliness of the prose alone.

But I will also be re-reading to capture things that I know I neglected to pick up on the first read of the novels in this series – that’s the type of books Wurts writes. She is a master at the craft of writing, and I cannot say enough about her abilities in this regard. She will make you work hard to comprehend the full picture, but I feel the payoff is well worth the effort on the part of the reader.

Prose, for me, is the second most critical aspect of writing required for my personal enjoyment, after characters. 
 
Wurts’ prose is the best I’ve read in any fantasy book ever, and has been marvellous gateway for me to revel in reading her novels.
 
I leave you with one more example of that breathtaking, incomparable prose, here:
 
“The encampment mustered in the predawn gloom, wakened to voices and the jingle of arms before the watch roster recalled the outlying sentries. Commotion upended routine at the picket lines, neighs from the horses selected for battle shrilling through the seethe of assembly before the advance. Servants scurried through last-minute chores and settled their masters’ debts with camp followers, handily ducking demand from the roustabout labourers caught short handed in the bustle of packing.”
 
I make no secret that I believe Janny Wurts is among the greatest fantasy writers of all-time, that she is my favourite author, and that “Wars of Light and Shadow” is my favourite fantasy series of all-time. 
 
So it is not surprising to anyone that after reading the final, ultimate volume of “Wars of Light and Shadow”, entitled “Song of the Mysteries”, that it now ranks second in my favourite fantasy books ever. Right behind “To Ride Hell’s Chasm”, also written by Wurts.
 
“Malazan”, “Realm of the Elderlings”, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, “Wheel of Time”, these are just some of the series that many readers will postulate as the “GOAT”. There are great, justifiable  reasons for that. Each of these series I just mentioned has its definitive merits, and readers love them for those merits.
 
I would ask that any readers who love any of the series that I’ve mentioned, if you feel you’ve read all or most of what are commonly considered on the list of GOAT series, please consider reading “Wars of Light and Shadow”. You might just find you will have to rearrange your list.
 
Congratulations to Janny Wurts on the magnificent feat of “Songs of the Mysteries”! 
SONG OF THE MYSTERIES WILL BE PUBLISHED MAY 28, 2024.
IT IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. LINK BELOW
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0008653909?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_thcv_10&storeType=ebooks&qid=1711543194&sr=8-1
Author Janny Wurts
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