The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon
Genre: High Fantasy
HarperCollins / Voyager: March 1, 2016
Source: Free from publisher and library
Jennifer Fallon always delivers complex and fast-paced fantasies, and I loved this book at least as much as her other works set in the world of the Hythrun Chronicles, if not more. The characters are complex, the narrative voices distinct, the action tense, and the plot tightly woven.
The Lyre Thief continues the story of the Demon Child… sort of. The heroines are really two half-sisters, who are also half-sisters of the high-maintenance and clever High Princess of Fardonhya who played a supporting role in the Demon Child trilogy. this is a complex fantasy that brings together the politics of several countries within a continent, mixes them with the gods of thieves, death, love, and lies, and tells the intimate stories of several individual characters.
Rakaia and Charisee, the two sisters who are the principle narrators, are two daughters of the King of Fardonhya – sort of. Except Rakaia is, in fact, another man’s child. When that man is captured and tortured because he offended the spoiled young prince, Rakaia’s mother, one of the many wives of the king, hatches a plot to rescue her daughter. Charisee is a baseborn daughter of the king, but it turns out she’s more princess than Rakaia. Both leave the castle when Rakaia is engaged to be married to a lord of the neighboring, rival kingdom: Hythria. Rakaia ends up on the road alone, making her way around the kingdoms, while Charisee takes her place as prospective bride.
The Demon Child, R’shiel, narrates a more minor part as she bargains with the god of death to return her beloved, Brak, from the underworld.
While Rakaia meets intriguing strangers and traveling companions on the road, Charisee becomes the premier protegee of the god of liars. Both find romance in their travels, although neither is fully resolved by the end of the novel. Which has me holding my breath as I wait for the next one.
The scope is about more than these individual characters, however. As a consequence of actions taken during the war between the Medalonian Sisters of the Blade and the northern Kariens, a sacred object of the God of Music has been stolen – which could alter the shape of the world entirely. Because without his icon, he cannot be – and that upsets the balance of power among the gods, which could be catastrophic for gods and mortals alike.
If you’re looking for a fantasy to draw you in and keep you enthralled for as long as you’re reading it, this is the one. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series, and I’m definitely going back to the second trilogy in this world, about Marla of Hythria (and, I hope, a little of Damin Wolfblade and his Fardonhyan princess, whose name I can’t remember).
If you haven’t already, start the Hythrun Chronicles. Begin with R’Shiel, in Medalon.
For another fantasy about two young women who leave home for the first time, travel to exotic locations, get involved in local and international politics, and fall in love, try Kate Elliott’s Cold Magic.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is another of what I like to call “gods and mortals” stories. Unsuspecting outcast Yeinne Darr suddenly becomes heir to the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, entangling her in the history of the gods.