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The Lightstone

Article Review   by:morgaine     Original Author: David Zindell
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Valashu Elahad is the youngest son of a warrior king and lives in Mesh,
a beautiful kingdom surrounded by high mountains.A gift of the Star
People, he has a special empathy and is flooded by other people´s
emotions and pain as if they were his own. Besides that, he can feel
the presence of evil.

When Val is hunting in the woods with his brother, he is attacked and
poisoned. Now his special ability is greatly enhanced and his pursuers
can smell him wherever he goes by the poison in his blood. At the same
time, he is now connected to Morjin, the archenemy.

Morjin, also called the Lord of Lies or the Red Dragon, is an evil
sorcerer among whose servants there are spies, assassins, and even
undead.He has in mind to bring the entire world of Ea under his
domination. In spite of the growing danger, however, the kingdoms
continue their centuries-long quarrels.
Over 7000 years old, Morjin seems to be immortal and invincible.Once a
hero, but too power-hungry, he changed sides and fell to the dark side.
He is a manipulator who sends people illusions, breaking their will and
is able to turn them into soulless ghouls.His primary goal is to get
hold of the Lightstone, the most powerful of the ancient alchemist
stones.

Valashu, called Val, is one of thousands of knights who go on a
quest to find this Grail-like object, for it is the only thing whereby
Morjin can be defeated. The Lightstone holds the luminous quality of
the One and harbours the power of creation.

Since the attack, Morjin often haunts Val´s nightmares ordering him to
bring him the magical artifact. In order to break his will, he sends
him horrible images. From now on, Val has to guard the door to his
dreams.

Together with his companions, the womanizer prince Maram and the
scholarly Master Juwain, he sets out to recover the Lightstone.Along
the way, they find new allies: beautiful Atara, who is an excellent
fighter;Liljana, a strong-willed and courageous woman who has the power
of telepathy;
Alphanderry, a troubadour whose songs give hope; Keyn, a master
swordfighter, but haunted and mysterious; and a tiny creature
possessing the fire of the angels.

Val and his friends find out that Morjin´s master Angra Mainyu, a
demon, is trapped in a world of hopeless despair. Morjin is
trying to open a door to this world to release him.
The companions cross a black swamp which has doorways to other
dimensions. Moreover, they encounter shape-changers,grey- soul-eaters,
ice-giants and bloodthirsty creatures in a labyrinthine forest.They
discover living crystals that slowly awaken slumbering abilities in
them.
Among their destinations are a city of living stone, a peaceful island, and a wooden realm peopled by elf-like beings.
They find out that the Lightstone is guarded by dragons and kept in the darkest place...

If Morjin finds it before them all of Ea will fall. Will the next age be one of darkness or one of light?
Whatever happens, Val retains his abhorrence to violence. He knows that a true warrior would always try to stop the war.

An antisentimental fantasy novel with pronounced dark overtones, this
book has intriguing characters and metaphysical themes. It has a high
level of seriousness like the Earthsea
trilogy, but is not as peaceful.On the one hand, the blending of horror
into this fantasy narrative invigorates it. On the other hand, it might
turn off some readers because of its gruesome scenes and bloody
battles. Compared to The Lord of the Rings,
it is less lively and seldom offers comic relief. Apart from the
elf-like Lokilani, there are less fairy-tale elements, and the book
seems to be more like a historical novel because of the political
scenarios. Therefore, it is more at the adult level and should not be
recommended to readers under 16.
Often gloomy in mood, the novel emphasizes, however,beauty and wonder.
On top of that, Val has an amost magical rapport with nature. Zindell
takes the reader through many impressive and beautiful, medieval- like
settings which are one of the strong points.
He sympathetically portrays Val, the reluctant hero who matures from volume to volume.
A definite plus is the distinct emotional focus: The story is told by
one view- point character and is therefore easy to follow. A larger-
than-life character, Val is at the same time a complex young man of
many doubts we can relate to and identify with.

A well thought-out mythology and metaphysics pervade the series.
Spiritual and religious overtones add much depth to the quest motif.
Cruelty is offset by deep, consoling thoughts.
The theme of the fallen angels is evocative of Christianity. There are
also tinges of Eastern mysticism. For example, Zindell
incorporated the idea of the Maitreya from Buddhism.
A complex meditation on the nature of evil, it also touches upon the meaning of life.
Our hero learns that the darkness cannot be averted by the use of weapons, but only through the light of truth.
Published: June 30, 2006   
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