Book Review: ‘Visions of Light and Shadow’ by Allison D. Reid

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(Copyright 2018 by Allison D. Reid)

This is the third book in The Wind Rider Chronicles by Allison D. Reid, best known to this blog as our friend “Weavingword.”

Two things make this series stand out from all the others. First, it has a fully Trinitarian theology: no one else I have read in fantasy has been bold enough to try this.

Second, although many–one might even say “most”–fantasy novels are set in an imaginary world similar to our world’s Middle Ages, this series boasts a unique feeling of authenticity. When it comes to the way life was lived by most people in the Middle Ages, Ms. Reid really knows her onions. Her wealth of authentic detail persuades the reader to believe in the story. Food and drink, technology, weapons, architecture, dress, the means of producing everyday goods and services–it’s all here.

And one other thing–tiresome fantasy cliches, like the Invincible Female Warrior, the Crusty But Benign Old Wizard, and Know-It-All Elves, are refreshingly absent from these books. I stand up and cheer for that!

These books are written as a continuous story, which means I had to go back and re-read the first two.

Elowyn and Morganne are two sisters who, having fled their increasingly disturbed home city and a mother who, for reasons we don’t yet know, hates them, have to find a place where they can live normal, peaceful lives. This is hard to do, because their world is under attack by supernatural forces. Morganne, the elder, is a weaver by trade and a scholar by avocation. Elowyn, the younger, has an affinity for the woodlands. These are engaging and believable protagonists.

At the root of their world’s problems is an evil wizard, Braeden, who controls their country’s weak and foolish king and is using necromancy to open, it seems, the gates of Hell and let out all sorts of evil and monstrous beings to prey upon the people. There is a Kinship of warriors who try to fight the evil, but are hard-pressed to keep it from devouring their towns and villages. They’re warriors, but they aren’t supermen. There’s a very real possibility that they won’t be able to hold the line.

There are still some important things that we, the readers, don’t know. Who, exactly, is Braeden, where did he come from, is he even fully human, and why is he doing this? Much of the answer, we expect, lies in the world’s ancient history, which must be painstakingly recovered if there is to be any hope of countering the evil. Why does the sisters’ mother hate her daughters, and who was their father? I strongly suspect the answer to that last question will come as a surprise, if not a shock.

Some readers will wish the story were carried forward at a faster pace–with more reminders, along the way, of what has gone before. But Ms. Reid is improving as a story-teller as she goes along, and I think we must be patient. Meanwhile, there is a well-crafted sense of growing menace that makes me eager for the next book in the series.

These are available both as e-books and paperbacks, and can be ordered through amazon.com.

“Weavingword” is weaving something good here, and I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

13 responses to “Book Review: ‘Visions of Light and Shadow’ by Allison D. Reid

  • weavingword

    Thank you, Lee! 🙂 I always look forward to your reviews, and appreciate that you took the time to read them all again. Your lingering questions will indeed be answered…eventually. There are still more books to come! The next one should be out soon. I am down to the last few chapters now.

    Like

    • leeduigon

      Just as long as you don’t turn Elowyn and Morganne into Invincible Female Warriors or Buxom Tavern Wenches! I’ve gotten rather fond of those characters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • weavingword

        I can absolutely promise you that I won’t do either of those things. 🙂 They are like real people to me, and I’d never diminish them in such a way.

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        • weavingword

          As an aside, Elowyn does become quite good at archery though…hope that doesn’t bother you. She works pretty hard her whole life for that skill, so it will be a deserved accomplishment.

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          • leeduigon

            Remember that stupid Robin Hood movie, starring whatsisname, the guy who can’t act his way out of a paper bag–Kevin Costner? He can’t beat Maid Marian in a swordfight, she just wipes up the floor with him. Then the Sheriff of Nottingham comes along and she turns into Miss Helpless. So Robin Hood has to beat the sheriff.

            Thing is, all fantasy cliches just irritate the living daylights out of me, and I love it that your books are free of them.

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          • weavingword

            I only vaguely remember it, which must mean I wasn’t all that impressed at the time. I hate fantasy cliches as much as you do. I try to keep my world and characters as realistic as possible without taking all the fun out of it. Those with exceptional skills had to work hard to get them, and must continue to work hard to keep them. Even those who are most accomplished are not invincible. They have failings, and they have limits.

            My book coach once told me that she thinks I’m actually writing what she would call devotional fiction mixed with Christian fantasy. It’s a a gentler, more realistic, and much more slowly evolving story. The focus isn’t the action and adventure and battles as much as the spiritual growth and character relationships. I’ve thought about that a lot since she said it, and I think she’s totally right.

            Fantasy cliches don’t really fit well into that sort of writing, and I don’t need them to tell my story.

            Like

    • leeduigon

      P.S.–I have a note here that you are now following my blog. What I want to know is, did WordPress drop you off the list? I wonder how often that happens, and to how many readers.

      Like

      • weavingword

        No, WordPress didn’t drop me off, but my email digest stopped coming through. After I mentioned it to you the last time and looked at it, I got a couple digests, but then they stopped coming again.

        With all the holiday craziness over, I finally got the time last night to look again to see if I could figure out what was going on. I was pleasantly surprised to see my book review up, and then I got really extra irritated that I’ve probably missed a lot of great posts.

        I found that everything in my WordPress settings was right for your blog. All I could think to do was unsubscribe and resubscribe from scratch to see if that clears the issue. Will see if I get my digest tonight or not. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try getting instant notifications again-maybe it’s purely a digest issue… I’m running out of ideas. It’s a pretty simplified system, and there aren’t a whole lot of options to tweak.

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        • leeduigon

          You’re not the only reader this has happened to. But I’m sure you understand computer stuff better than I do.

          BTW, you can catch up on all the posts you missed by visiting the Archives.

          Like

          • weavingword

            I will definitely do that! And if my notifications still don’t come, I’ll start making a point of just coming to your blog directly every day to see what I’ve missed.

            Like

  • weavingword

    Just to give you an update, my daily digest came through at 1:42 a.m. Yay! Let’s hope it keeps coming and the problem is resolved!

    Like

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