Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Shades of Time and Memory

The Shades of Time and Memory
by Storm Constantine
448pp (Hardcover)
Rating: 9/10
The Shades of Time and Memory is the second book in the Wraeththu Histories trilogy by British science fiction and fantasy author Storm Constantine. I would not recommend reading this book (or this review) if you have not read the original Wraeththu Chronicles books and the first Wraeththu Histories book. While The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, the first of the Wraeththu Histories, filled in some of the gaps in the Wraeththu Chronicles, this book picks up where both the first Wraeththu Histories book and the original trilogy ended.

As with the first book in this trilogy, I was a little nervous about reading this one in case it didn't live up to my expectations. The first book in the new trilogy was really good, but this book actually continued the story after Cal returned to Immanion and was reunited with Pellaz. It turns out my fears were unfounded since I found this book to be as enjoyable as The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure.

One part of this book that I really enjoyed was that it made it seem more difficult for Cal to begin life in Immanion. At the end of the original Wraeththu trilogy, it seemed as though Cal came to the palace, defeated Thiede, restored the relationship between Pellaz and Caeru instantly, and found it easy to adjust to life reigning as Tigron with Pellaz. They lived happily ever after - The End.
This book shows more of the struggles involved with this ending in the beginning of the story. Events played out the same way in a less rushed manner, but it was not instantaneous as the end of the first trilogy made it seem. Pellaz is happy to have Cal back, yet he is resentful of the removal of Thiede. Cal finds that Pellaz has changed over the years. Some members of the Hegemony are planning to remove Cal and put another in his place.

The final members of Pellaz's family are introduced in this book - Dorado, now known as Snake, and his son Moon. Dorado is an exceptionally powerful seer, who is fearful of his vision of his brother the Tigron of Immanion finding him and Moon. Cobweb, a powerful seer who claims to be weak in comparison to Snake, has become aware of Snake's presence and convinces Pellaz they need his brother's powers for the times coming.

Meanwhile, Ponclast the Varr joins forces with a dark and mysterious power to escape the prison he has been in for years. Ponclast has had many sons in preparation for the day when he can fight the Gelaming, and one of these children, Diablo, is granted the power to travel the Otherlanes without a sedim. By accident, Diablo meets the bitter son of Pellaz and Caeru, Abrimel, who is all too eager to defy both his parents and side with Ponclast in the upcoming struggle between the exiled Varrs and the Gelaming.

As always, the characterization is superb. Any character who could be considered evil has motivation instead of just being evil for the sake of it. The characters are not at all black and white and are very vivid. Some of the dialogue struck me as being excellent and more reminiscent of the old Wraeththu trilogy.

As with The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure, this book is more plot-oriented than the very heavily character-oriented Wraeththu Chronicles. The first person perspective is gone and it focuses on a wide variety of characters instead of just one character's perspective.

I highly recommend the Wraeththu Chronicles and Wraeththu Histories series to anyone looking for a unique story with well-written characters. Some may find there is too much focus on interpersonal relationships, especially in the original trilogy, but if that does not bother you, these are definitely well worth the time spent reading them. This series is imaginative, beautifully written, and filled with gray characters who each have their own very distinct personality. I have never read anything else like it and it has become one of my favorites of all time.


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