Lord of Danger, by Anne Stuart

>> Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I'm glad that even though I intensely disliked the previous Anne Stuarts I've read (Blue Sage and Moonrise), I nevertheless decided to give her another chance and read Lord of Danger.

Half-sister to Richard the Fair, Alys has been schooled in the sheltered ways of the convent, far from the treachery and intrigue of castle life. Until she is taken from the cloister and brought to a place filled with secrets. Here she is to meet her future husband, a man some call monster. He is Simon of Navarre, a powerful and mysterious lord practiced in the black arts. This sensual stranger both terrifies and fascinates her...and sets her heart burning with an unfamiliar fire.

Jaded by war, no longer able to believe in human goodness, Simon has turned to the realm of darkness. But the master magician finds himself bewitched by the innocent Alys, who fears his very touch could damn her forever...yet even as Simon begins to work his seductive magic, Alys senses the wounded soul beneath the coolly elegant facade. Now, as the two became pawns in Richard's treacherous scheme to become England's king, only one power can save them: the unstoppable force of love.
Such a difference from those other two books! The little things that I'd liked about them, what made me think "this could have been good" were excellent here, and what had bothered me had been toned down. A B+.

I really liked that the focus of the book was mostly on the love story. The political intrigue set up the situation and provided the final conflict, but it didn't take over the story with tiresome manouvering.

The characters: just wonderful. Simon was a very dark, tortured hero. He was like James (from Moonrise) in that, only he had a sense of humor, a great deal of charm, a sense of honour and a troublesome conscience... in short, he was nothing like James ;-)

All jokes aside, he was a fascinating character, a guy who's cultivated his own legend to get power, who delights in scaring people and who likes to think that he has lost his soul and has no conscience, only to have it pop up and bother him at inconvenient times. James wouldn't have had a problem in giving Richard the poison he asked for in order to murder the 12-year-old king. Simon did. He tried to convince himself, listed all the reasons why he should do it anyway, but his conscience still bothered him. And that made all the difference in my liking him.

I loved the way he was completely fascinated by Alys, and how that fascination baffled him. As for Alys, I liked her too. She was a bit too much of a wide-eyed innocent at first, so ready to martyr herself and sacrifice. I just loved the way she accepted the fact that it wasn't going to be such an awful thing to be married to Simon, that the guy didn't so much scare her as excite her. I thought it was very courageous of her to see this, most romance heroines would simply cling to their idea that they were sacrificing to the bitter end.

The secondary storyline I liked. It was interesting, but much more romance-ey than the primary one. I liked that it contrasted nicely with it, giving the book some much needed air among the intensity.

Other good things were the colourful, almost jewel-like (I know this isn't a valid adjective, but it was the word that came to mind. You probably know what I mean) atmosphere and a villain who was interesting and actually human. Evil, yes, but not a caricature.

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