I roared along the book and my spontaneous comment after the final sequence was “OMG! Read this one!”
Heartfelt advice; if you’ve read Stormed Fortress, do not miss this first book of the Sword of the Canon Arc. I'm very happy I read this gripping installment straightaway, Initiate's Trial shifts gears but not the pace, which increases, again, and what sets the stage is the very ending of the previous book, particularly all the things that emerge in the final chapters. Another round of applause to the author, I was surprised yet again and it wasn't easy, after the awesome Alliance of Light Arc, to write something equally powerful and continuing the story with originality and sensation. The approach is pretty intense, and daring, because the tale is not done in linear time. It was not easy to accept it at first, considering how I loved the story and the characters, but then I just immersed into the narrative and saw the events through the eyes of the protagonists; this literary choice added to the reading momentum: going forward, I was also in suspense to find out what had happened before.
It takes courage, certainly, but after the ending of Stormed Fortress, I guess a different direction may have sprawled things and probably one of the elements why this series works so fine for me is, in hindsight, that while the story never takes an angle of unredeemable sadness and pain, nothing overstays its welcome. The Wars of Light and Shadow doesn’t suffer from lack of inspiration or from excessive attachment to characters or situations, or on the other hand, from deliberate slaughter.
I am again reminded Janny Wurts is an author who doesn't repeat herself and doesn’t sacrifice coherence for expediency's sake; she keeps fitting a multi-layered epic into no wasted steps and brilliantly manages to raise tension and conflict with each volume.
I particularly relished the enfolding themes of the nature of religious fanaticism, social stigma, of the necessity of balancing conflicting interests, the many shades of redemption, the rippling impact of individual choices, the backlash of power and the several surprises with double ramifications genially spread throughout the book, among which, some exciting reveals on Lysaer character.
The book is deeply engaging, yet it's different from all its predecessors. It is exactly the reader’s knowledge of the story which allows the shocking opening and the narrower outlet on the events; I also loved the way the language matches the feeling of uncertainty, of unbalance and of the instinct behavior of the characters involved; then the veil gradually lifts granting both fast-paced action and introspection, until the climax when all the threads burst forth. Throughout, the intensity never wavers. Characteristically, the book does not end with a cliff-hanger, but needless to say, many things have been set into motion and I am fully in step with the new situation, eagerly looking forward to Destiny’s Conflict.