Saturday, July 06, 2013

Review: _The Shrine of Light_ by Sarah Isidore

History holds a fascination for us. It connects us to our roots. The distant past is cloaked in mystery, which has been fertile ground for stories. Fantasy authors mix history with fantasy elements to produce the subgenre of Historical Fantasy. These novels can be entertaining. Sarah Isidore gives readers an entertaining read with _The Shrine of Light_, the second book of "The Daughters of Bast" trilogy. Ms. Isidore provides an exciting story with a different setting, memorable characters and stimulating plot.

The book’s setting gives it a touch of reality. The story takes place around 481 CE in Eire (Ireland) and Gaul (France). With the Roman Empire in decline, whole groups of people are on the move to new lands. This creates conflicts between the different groups and cultures. Christianity is on the rise, adding more stress for the pagan religions trying to survive. The author describes this ancient time in detail, bringing the time to life with vivid descriptions of the people, land and the clashes. She also adds different magic to the story, which makes the setting more mysterious.

Next, Ms. Isidore inhabits her vivid setting with memorable characters. Damona is a woman with a life full of tragedy. Her life is traced throughout the book as she must overcome anger and grief to save her land. She is helped by an enigmatic black cat that serves her goddess. Along the way, she meets Rionach, the queen of her kingdom and a Christian as well as Chlodweg the ambitious king of the Franks and his pregnant wife. These characters and two Egyptian goddesses play important roles in Damona’s life. All of these characters fit their time with the powerful descriptions by the author that brings them to life.

Finally, the setting and characters combine with an interesting plot     for entertaining results. Damona is the priestess of the shrine dedicated to the Egyptian cat goddess Bast in Eire. The lord of her kingdom comes for a prophecy. When it is not to his liking, he massacres Damona’s family, setting into motion a cycle of revenge and redemption. Damona pledges herself to Sekhmet, Egyptian goddess of destruction, to exact her revenge on the king. She brings a curse on her people and must travel to Gaul in  order to find the wands to break the curse. The plot has struggles between the goddesses, Christianity versus paganism, and the Franks against the Alemmani. There is a lot of action driven by this plot to keep a reader entranced to the end.

Historical Fantasies are very entertaining to read. Authors blend history and fantasy to create intriguing works that appeal to our interest in the past. _The Shrine of Light_ by Sarah Isidore is such an entertaining read. Its different setting, memorable characters and interesting plot gives the reader a lot of action and suspense. Ms. Isidore blends Celtic and Egyptian mythology to provide her novels with a unique story. This second book of "The Daughters of Bast" is a good addition to the genre. Read this book if you get a chance.

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