Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You did not walk away from those you loved. You fought for them, always, with everything you had, even if it meant fighting the long fight, and staying on the hardest, quietest, most difficult course.”
For Beluviel, consort to the Elven High Lord, and Graydon, gryphon and First Sentinel of the Wyr, even the slightest desire for each other is forbidden. But two hundred years ago, after a desperate play to save Beluviel’s stepson left them indebted to the cruel Djinn Malphas, they found their fates inexorably linked together—and the hunger between them growing too strong to ignore…
Two centuries later, with their debt to Malphas coming due, Beluviel and Graydon realize that, if they are to stand any chance of saving their souls, they must once again work together—this time more closely than ever before. But every moment they spend with each other brings them nearer to losing something even more vital—their hearts…(Goodreads)
Shadow’s End is the ninth book in Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series. Harrison turns her sights two strong long standing series characters-Graydon and Beluviel. Graydon is first sentinel to Dragos, King of the Wyrs. Beluviel is the consort to the High Lord Elven. Fans first saw a hint that there was something between them Lord’s Fall. But it’s not until now that Harrison reveals the true nature of their relationship. The first half of the the book is set in the past, showing us how and when Graydon and Beluviel fell in love. We learn what leads to their eventual separation. The book then picks up in the present, some 200 years later, and the story moves forward from there as they find a way, with the help from friends and allies, to put down a very dangerous enemy who everyone has a score to settle with.
Star crossed lovers is a favorite trope of mine and one I find we don’t see to much of anymore. Oh, there are plenty of romances where lovers are separated due to misunderstandings or interfering family but this couple is actually forced to make a life and death deal that they will never succumb to the passion between them ever again in order to save someone very important to Beluviel-her stepson. A deal that also ensures their everlasting silence. When Beluviel’s husband dies, leaving Ferion as the new High Lord in charge, Beluviel and Graydon know the time has come to break the bonds of their silence and find a way to free Ferion and themselves.
I have enjoyed Thea Harrison’s series, The Elder Races, since book one. Her smooth flowing storylines and intriguing characters continue to evolve and expand, offering more entertainment with each new installment. Heavily character driven, this book wraps up some ongoing storylines that has flowed under the arc with small updates in various novels and novellas since Oracle’s Moon. The focus stays firmly on the protagonists with little world building or arc advancement though there is a shock or two that will spoil so first time readers may not want to start here.
Graydon has always been one of my favorite character in this series. Loyal, intelligent, compassionate, and self-sacrificing, he was the first to welcome Pia to the fold and try to soften her transition. Not the most handsome or charismatic of the gryphon wyr sentinels, he does possess the biggest heart. When he decides to help Beluviel, he puts his whole soul into it and discovers a love he never thought possible. Though they only had one night together, the bond formed was powerful enough to last centuries.
Beluviel didn’t really develop as much as I had hoped though we do see a much softer side to her. Most of our interactions with her have been because of Pia and often in some kind of antagonistic role. In here, we hear from her directly about her life as the consort, the slow disintegration of her marriage, and the overwhelming love she has for her stepson. We are shown the reasons behind her agreement of the edict placed on her by Malphas. She not only accepted losing Graydon but chose to stay close to Ferion to ensure Malphas doesn’t use the Elven for nefarious purposes.
For me the conflict was the most interesting and impacting aspect of the book. Plenty of action and suspense comes into play and I liked seeing all the many story threads and familiar faces come together in a rather epic conclusion. The romance unfortunately didn’t hold equal weight for me. I liked it overall but I wasn’t blown away by it. I think if I had been able to see more of their of anguish and pain at their separation in other books leading up to this, I would have appreciated more what they went through. It all happens so fast, we don’t get to feel the full brunt of it. I also didn’t quite get the same level of intensity from Beluviel as I did Graydon in reference to their feelings for one another. As it was, it struck me all as rather sad.
Harrison signs off with some cheers and tears, leaving us more than ready for Liam’s novella and book ten. While this wasn’t my favorite of the series, it is definitely worth reading if you are a dedicated fan.