The Shattered Sylph by L. J. McDonald
The Shattered Sylph by L.J. McDonald (http://www.ljmcdonald.ca/index.html ) is the second in the fantasy romance series dealing with the world of the Sylphs. I enjoyed The Battle Sylph as it was an original idea and had a feeling that Lizzy and Ril would have a story in the future (if they did not, I was going to be mad as I liked Ril and Lizzy). I was excited when it was announced that their story would be next. And I am happy to report that I found this entry in the series an even stronger novel compared to the debut book! Such a rare, happy occurance that I am still buzzing happily.
Book description: “Kidnapped by slavers, Lizzie Petrule was dragged in chains across the Great Sea to the courrupt empire of Meridal. There, beneath a floating citadel and an ocean of golden sand, lies a plasure den for gladiators- and a prison for the maidens forced slake their carnal thirst.
Despite impossible odds, against imponderable magic, three men have vowed Lizzie’s return: Justin, her suitor, Leon, her father; and Ril the shape-shifting but war-weary battler. Together, this broken band can save her, but only with a word that must remain unsaid, a faoe that is a friend, and a betrayal that is, at heart, an act of love. “
Overall, I found the story to be even more complex, especially in regard to the culture and world building of Meridal, than The Battle Sylph. While I enjoyed The Battle Sylph, I found the lead heroine a bit weak and too young sounding at times for my taste though I enjoyed all the other parts of the book. I find I feel the same in regards to this novel. The Sylph world is fascinating and the differences of what a Battler is compared to a human is stressed more than it is even in the first book. The fact of what it means to be a Battler as well as to submit to their masters parralleling the them of slavery and a slave society was interesting though I don’t think the author went as far as she could’ve with the idea. The whole idea of a world that has built so many rules to live the way they do on another race is too realistic and sad. I kept rooting for the various characters to find a way not only to survive, but to somehow help the people in this country who were being downtrodden by the elite. By the climax of the story, I was wanting all the bad guys to die a horrendous death.
The story moved along briskly and the horror of what the women were being submitted to was painful as what the other sylphs were having to deal with was beyond horrible, but there were moments of hope, humor and love to lighten it so I wouldn’t say it was too dark.
The only complaint I have with this book (or the previous book) is that the female characters don’t have really strong characters despite the fact of their ability to “master” a battler in the fashion they do. The lead, Lizzy, I liked better as a child in the previous book, but in this book, I felt that her personality was a bit too shallow in the beginning and childish for the age she was to be (of course, being overprotected as she was, I guess I can see how it could have happened). I just didn’t see her being that strong to really survive the trials that she was going to be put through. I do wish the author would spend more time on creating a female who is a bit older and more mature sounding. Especially considering the role these gals play in the Sylph world it would make more sense to me if the women’s personality came across in a more three dimensional way instead of sort of there and didn’t seem like a little pre-teen in the beginning of the book. Some might say they grow, but I would still like to see the female leads to be more responsible to start with instead of flighty or giggling twits. Just a pet peeve.
Leon was as awesome in this book as he was in his debut of the first book. Ril was interesting and I had more interest in the villanious female as well as the other characters. I adore the Sylphs. Even the mad ones. The whole concept of the race fascinates me and I keep wondering about their orginal world “hive” and what they would think of their new home. I also can’t help but wonder what the consquences will be for the Sylph world after the ending of The Shattered Sylph. It had more far-reaching effects than even the events of the first book in regards to other kingdoms and tribes.
I will warn those who are going for this book for pure romance that it has more of a fantasy focus at times as the romance between the main characters is NOT the main focus or dominant theme. It is actually pretty balanced on fights, world building and switching focus from one character to another. And it isn’t first person narrative which is a tad refreshing for me as it seems a lot of books out there are.
I would rate this book as a fun book. For me, it will be a keeper as I just love the world building and Leon too much not to want to re-read it. For some, it will be an interesting fluff read and others will love it (I notice a lot of Christine Feehan fans like it). And then there will be some who will not because the romance isn’t the domanating factor or doesn’t focus on sex (despite the cover implications) in an erotica way.
Again, it is just a nice light fantasy read that focuses on what slavery is and the difference to some what bondage is and can mean (though again, it doesn’t go into it as heavily as the author could’ve went with it). I will be looking forward to MidWinter Fantasy (anthology) that will focus on another favorite Sylph of mine that is due out in December and the upcoming The Queen of the Sylphs for March 2011.