Reviews of 'The Lioness'
Reviews of 'The Lioness'
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The Lioness. The Kagonesti elf who heads the resistance fighters against the conquerors of the Qualinesti forests. The beloved of the elven king Gilthas. A servant girl. Taken from the Kagonesti homelands by the Qualinesti and forced to serve the "higher" race. Yet the champion of the Qualinesti cause.
This is her story.
Kerian is a servant girl under one of the senators who rules over Qualinesti. Unknown to the senator, she's also a spy and the lover of the king, Gilthas, who is king only in title, but is secretly working behind the scenes to build up a support network to eventually remove the corrupt senate from power.
Compounding the political problem are the Knights of Takhisis who have taken up residence in Qualinesti, conquering the elves, controlling the senate, and bleeding the citizens of their goods to pay tribute to the green dragon Beryl, who also holds power over the forest.
Kerian finally has enough, seeing the heads of both Kagonesti and Qualinesti "outlaws" being piked on the gates of the city. She leaves the comfort of Qualinost to find her brother, who heads a band of wild elves in the forest. Leaving the city, she becomes one of the outlaws the knights are hunting. She starts off unknowing and naieve, but eventually grows to lead a band of fierce and aggressive rebels, whose goal is to liberate the elven city and serve as the king's secret army.
Liberally sprinkled with more lows than highs, this is the story of a growing rebel force, it's leader, and the difficulties they encounter. It's not an easy path for any of them, and a lot of heartache follows, but it's the only hope for the elves... Qualinesti, Kagonesti, and Silvanesti.
Well written, with a good plotline, The Lioness tackles a story without turning it into a happy ending for all good involved. My one gripe was a few of the name-drops that occurred. Mention was made several times of various Heroes of the Lance, even when not relevant to the storyline. While some mention of Tanis was ok (given his relation to Gil and Laurana, and therefore to Kerian), the rest seemed a little over-the-top, almost like it was expected to draw the reader by saying "hey, this location in the world had something to do with the heroes!"
Generally though, I enjoyed this book. Most of Nancy's work is well done and well thought out, and this was no exception. I felt she stayed true to the personalities of both Gil and Kerian, as portrayed in previous works.
The Lioness, which was written by Nancy Varian Berberick, is the background story of Kerianseray of Qualinesti. Readers will know her as the Lioness featured within the War of Souls Trilogy.
This story begins in Qualinost with Gilthas and Kerian spending their time together. There are rumblings of political unrest amongst the elf leaders. The Dark Knights are everywhere and, of course, their land is controlled by Beryl, the green overlord.
Fighting against the Dark Knights are small pockets of resistance groups; unfortunately for Kerian, her cousin was in such a group and was killed. Her head was mounted on the eastern bridge of Qualinost. Spurred by her cousins death, Kerian is concerned for her brothers safety (he is also in one of these resistance groups). She ventures out to see if he is safe or is in need of help.
From these beginnings comes a story that shows how a servant girl of the house of Rashas came to become the secret weapon of King Gilthas. We see how Kerian learns to lead the "Night People" (the name of the resistance groups) to battle the Dark Knights and, eventually, become a thorn in the side of Marshal Medan.
There are a number of things I liked about this book:
1) The appearance of Stanach Hammerfell. Stanachs appearance helps provide a sense of continuity within Nancy's stories. Readers should look at Stormblade and The Search for Magic to read more about Stanach.
2) The battle scenes are very detailed and descriptive. Nancy provides an excellent description of what happens when group's of elves attack groups of Dark Knights.
3) The portray of Gilthas fits in nicely with his characterization in the War of Souls. While Gilthas is not a major character within The Lioness, he does provide the impotence for many events within Kerians life: the developing of his secret army, serving as an ambassador to the Council of Thanes, and, of course, his secret marriage to Kerian. Although the elves think Gilthas is weak, Nancy portrays him as a confident individual with the power to lead his people. The continuity between Gilthas in The Lioness and The War of Souls is excellent.
4) Tarn Bellowsgranite and the start of the treaty that will eventually see a tunnel built between Thorbardin and Qualinesti. This description serves to clarify how the tunnel between Qualinesti and Thorbardin came into being. Readers will remember this tunnel from book two of the War of Souls Triology. The continuity between this book and War of Souls is a huge strength.
5) Lord Thagol, a knight who is feared and reviled by many for he has the power to look into your dreams and steal information from you. The consequences of his intrusions into your mind has a high price. By the end of the book you really end up hating this guy. This is another of Nancy's strong points - she makes a character be truly nefarious.
There are some items, unfortunately, that I did not like in The Lioness:
1) Laurana, the Queen Mother, comes across weakly and timid. Even though she only has a few cameos throughout the book, she could have been written with a stronger personality. In my opinion, the charactertization between the War of Souls and the Lioness does not match.
2) Marshall Medan was only mentioned in the first chapter. I had anticipated that we would see more of him - alas, that was not the case. Within The Lioness, we only learn that Marshal Medan is the individual who put Lord Thagol in charge of Qualinost. While this is not exactely a flaw in the book, it was a disappointment.
3) The level and quality of the writing style. I found many spelling mistakes/errors throughout the book, i.e., a few times where a 'he' was a 'she', and 'say' should have been 'stay'. This is the first Dragonlance book where the spelling mistakes were very noticeable to me. Also, the way in which Nancy constructs sentences can be confusing. She has a number of phrases simply tied together with commas when they could have been written as separte sentences.
Despite the aforementioned criticisms, this book is a definate must-read for those interested in the characters of the War of Souls. It fit's in nicely with what was presented in the main triology, i.e., characterizations, events and timelines.
Nancy's work adds significantly to the world of Dragonlance. She helps flesh out the background information behind the Lioness by turning a background character into a leading character. Hopefully, Kerian's story is not over.
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