Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Thea Harrison - Spellbinder

Kidnapped while on tour, musician Sidonie Martel is transported to the mystical land of Avalon. A
human without magical ability, she is completely vulnerable to the deadly forces surrounding her.
When she defies her captors and refuses to share her music, an act of violent cruelty leaves her broken, her ability to play silenced, maybe forever. Her only hope is a whisper in the dark, gentle hands that offer healing, and a man who refuses to show her his face yet who offers advice she dare not ignore.
One of the most feared and powerful sorcerers in history, Morgan le Fae serves a Queen he despises, Isabeau of the Light Court. Once a famous bard and an advisor to kings, Morgan has been enslaved to Isabeau for hundreds of years, acting as enforcer and the commander of her deadly Hounds.
Sidonie’s music touches Morgan in places he had abandoned centuries ago, and her fiery spirit resurrects feelings he had believed long dead. For Sidonie, trapped in captivity, passion offers a comfort she cannot resist.
But Isabeau holds Morgan bound in magical chains that only Death can break. And in the court of a cruel, jealous Queen, the only thing that burns hotter than love is revenge…

Comment: This is the second book in the Moonshadow trilogy, a spin off of the Elder Races series by Thea Harrison. I liked the first book, which I read last year, but I admit I had hopes for this second one since it would feature the redemption of a villain... well, I imagined so anyway, but thankfully I was proven right and this turned out to be an engrossing read to me.

After what happened in the first book, where we met the villain Morgan leFey - even though we understood something shady was going on - the plot of this second one begins with the kidnapping of musician Sidonie Martel, whose violin concerts are in high demand. Sidonie is kidnapped by Robin (whom we met in book #1) so that he can use her as bait for Morgan, someone he considers the worst enemy. Since Morgan seemed to be fascinated by Sidonie's music, he creates an impossible situation where Sidonie, a human, ends up tortured by Isabeau from the Light Fae Court, the person who controls Morgan. However, despite the awful things he has been forced to do, Morgan still has a good heart and he tries to help Sidonie, not knowing she would be the solution to his problems...

Again, it does seem what I described is very complicated but for those who have read the first book, this makes perfect sense. Of course, a new reader would understand the plot easily too, there's no need to read the other book first but as it usually happens in these situations, things do have a better context if we know what happened before with more detail.

I liked this book a little better than the previous one. I certainly enjoyed the main characters' paths towards love a lot more, Morgan's in particular. Morgan is seen as a bad guy but he has been enslaved for too long and because of a spell he can't run from, he has done things he wished he hadn't. I could really root for him because, despite the bad things and the killings, his core is still good and he wishes he could undo many of the things he was forced to do. I especially liked how, despite all the words he says against it, he retained so many of his good human traits.

Sidonie is human and put in the middle of a fight she should not have anything do with but there is she is nevertheless. Robin, the puck from the previous book, who has been tortured by Isabeau (the true villain) decides to use her a pawn which obviously reveals his more egotistical nature, very unlike the human side he seemed to present in the first book. This puts her in a direct path of Isabeau's schemes and Morgan ends up feeling he has to help her...after all it was by being delighted by her concerts that she was approached by Robin... Sidonie playes her role admirably and I feel she revealed a lot more fortitude than expected, considering everything she goes through. On the other hand, this is set in a fantasy world, so different reactions from the real life ones can apply...

What I liked the best was how these two would slowly work together to try to find a way to rescue Sidonie. It's true Robin was mean by putting her in such a position but all things considered, that was what made it possible for her and Morgan to meet and find they can be a good match. Almost an end justifying the means.... still, I liked how their relationship developed, cautiously at first but when Sidonie had a bit more control of herself in a new world, things evolved rather quickly. They both shared personal things and although that is to be expected if they are going to be a couple in love at some point, I still felt happy that they had someone to trust, especially Morgan.

There are some adventures the characters need to go through, there's conflict and some harsh decisions closer to the end but I feel the author has thought well about how to play things out. It's true some things feel a bit too dramatic but at the same time it makes sense to create such difficulties. This is the way they feel validated in the choices they make and, to be honest, after such personal sacrifices, it does feel like they can be more secure in their path and in their happiness if they feel like they had to earn it... our minds do make us complex!

I had a great time reading this story, I rooted for the good guys, I wanted to see the bad ones punished, I wished the protagonists could find comfort and love in each other. I'm happy these things happened and even more so by having all this part of a fascinating world because, even though some stories in the Elder Races weren't favorites, the world building is very well done and intriguing and, as it always happens in these situations, part of the fun and the appeal is to follow the characters on their lives in such complex but intriguing worlds.

I'm curious about the last book and I'll definitely read it some day.

Grade: 8/10

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