Cecilia Dart-Thornton,
The Battle of Evernight
(Warner/Aspect, 2003)

Be careful of the Faêran, for they are tricksy and not all of them love Mankind. Such a one is the Raven Prince, Morragan, exiled a thousand years ago from the Fair Realm to the earthly realm of Erith.

Morragan had never made a secret of his dislike of humans, and when he won a boon of the Faêran Keeper of the Gates, he decreed that the Fair Realm and Erith should be sundered and all Gates closed forevermore. As it happened, both he and his brother, the King Angavar, paying no heed to the GateKeeper's Call, were trapped outside the Gate of Oblivion's Kiss when it was closed. He has lately heard that one mortal knows of a way back to the Fair Realm and he intends to possess her secret by any means necessary.

Ashalind na Pendran was born a thousand years ago in the lost Talith city of Hythe Mellyn. When a Faêran piper stole the children of Hythe Mellyn as punishment for an injustice done him by the city's governing council, it was Ashalind who rescued them, and then convinced the Faêran to allow the children and their families to live in the Fair Realm so that the children should not die of the Langothe, the wasting death that afflicted humans who had once been in the Fair Realm. But then Ashalind had plunged into the Gate of Oblivion's Kiss just as it was Closed, exiting a thousand years after she had been born. She had forgotten not only the location of the Gate, but her very self when the bitterbynde, or geas, of the Gate descended on her.

Now, in The Battle of Evernight, the third book of The Bitterbynde Trilogy, Ashalind has finally remembered who she is and why she returned to Erith. But she still cannot remember the exact location of the Gate which she propped open with a knifeblade and three strands of her own golden hair. Since she now knows the password to unlock the GateKeeper's Keys, she decides to search for the Gate and return to the Fair Realm, there to reopen the Gates so that the Faêran may search for their missing King and then leave Erith forever.

Unfortunately for Ashalind and her companions, both Prince Morragan and King Angavar are searching for her, though not necessarily for the same reason. And if the Prince finds her before the King, or before she finds the Gate, it will not go well for her.

Cecilia Dart-Thornton's heroine, Ashalind (also called Imrhien, Rohain and Tahquil), is both complex and likable. She does what she feels is best for Erith, sacrificing her own wants and needs in the process (except for the desire to rid Erith of the Faêran, that is). Afflicted herself by the Langothe, she yet struggles on, knowing she will die, but hoping she can finish her quest beforehand.

In The Battle of Evernight Dart-Thornton uses lush, lyrical prose to present a world haunted by supernatural creatures. Every bush, stone and pool harbors some wight, only a few of which are benevolent. Throw into this mix the threat of a war to overthrow the human King-Emperor, and the world becomes an entirely unsafe place where people go about only by day, with charms around their necks for safety. She mines folklore and fairy tales, weaving those ancient stories into her own. For instance, within these pages, one will find -- only slightly disguised -- both True Thomas and Tam Lin, among many others.

The Battle of Evernight is a story to be remembered.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 4 October 2003

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