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Friday, April 10, 2015


Author:  C. T. Adams  
Series:  THE FAE 
Plot Type:  Romantic Fantasy 
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality2; Humor—2   
Publisher and Titles:  Tor
          The Exile (3/2015)

       In her introductory "Author's Note," Adams sets forth a few caveats about her world-building for this series, explaining that the Faerie world of this mythology is completely her own. "I have not used Spenser, nor any other work detailing the mythos of the Sidhe, Seelie, and/or Unseelie courts. I have, however, used the familiar names of the Sidhe, trolls, brownies, pixies, doxies, goblins, and other creatures." Unlike traditional faerie mythology, all Sidhe are members of a single Fae species and are not divided into the traditional Seelie and Unseelie courts. The Sidhe "look most human, except taller, thinner, with pointy ears. They can use illusion and can use magic like a weapon. They also have this innate ability called the shining or shine and it's dangerous…They use it deliberately to cloud people's minds and overpower their will, so that they do whatever they're told."

     Other Fae species—trolls, pixies, etc.—have their own courts and kings. Ruling over most of the Fae is the High King, although a few Fae species exist in separate nations and pledge allegiance only to their own kings.

     Leu, the High King of the Fae, never wanted to be the king, and as the series opens, he is trying to determine which of his offspring will succeed him: 
    >  Brianna, the series heroine: daughter of Helena Washington, a human witch 
    >  Lucienne (aka Luci), daughter of Mara, a Sidhe
    >  Eammon, son of Asara, a Sidhe (Leu's firstborn son)
    >  Rihannon, daughter of Asara; a spaced-out drug addict
    >  Rodan, son of Asara

     Brianna spent her childhood in Faerie, but left when her mother escaped back to mortal Earth after she was convicted and imprisoned for closing off the Veil that separates the Fae and human worlds, making it impossible for the Fae to move between the realms. Until Helena closed the Veil, the Fae could freely move back and forth, stealing human babies and making all kinds of mischief in the human world. The Sidhe nobles hate Brianna because she lives in the human world and because her mother closed the Veil. All of Brianna's half-siblings have spent their entire lives in Faerie, and several of them want to take over the throne, no matter what the cost. Brianna would rather stay in the relatively peaceful human world, but in book 1, outside forces push her into the middle of the rapidly deteriorating political scene in Faerie. 

     Brianna owns a magic shop in Philadelphia in which she sells herbs, magical objects, and spells to magic practitioners. She has two employees: Maxine, a human, and David Antonelli, a gay man who inherited some Sidhe magic from his Sidhe grandmother, Sophie (aka Cephia), who is an oracle. David's brother, Nick, is a police detective who has always resisted his magical genetics and continues to deny the very existence of magic. Moments after he meets Brianna in book 1, though, he changes his mind when he gets caught up in a doxie ambush. After Nick's first brush with the Fae, his brother tells him, "Look, it's probably going to be easiest if you just assume that every mythical creature you've ever heard of really does existon this side of the veil [in Faerie]. And everything and everyone here is dangerous as hell and not to be trusted." 

     Faerie is a realm of political intrigue and constant danger as various individuals and groups vie for power and influence and murder their enemies without a second thought. Also playing a part in the series is Fate, a being made up of three separate souls, or aspects: Atropos (the eldest), Lachesis, and Clotho (the youngest). When Atropos chooses to move on, Lachesis moves up to take her place. Clotho then replaces Lachesis, and a new soul from among the dying becomes the youngest aspect. In the prologue of the first book, King Leu grants a favor to Atropos and receives a boon (i.e., information about the future). The details of the favor and the boon are quite important to the plot of the The Exile, but the reader must wait a long time for those details to be revealed. 

     This is C.T. Adams' first solo series, and its quality is just as high as her books written with Cathy Clamp under the joint pen name Cat Adams. Click HERE to read my review of Cat Adams' BLOOD SINGER series. 

               NOVEL 1:  The Exile               
     As the first book opens, a mysterious Sidhe woman enters Brianna's shop and demands to purchase Pug, Brianna's gargoyle friend. (Note: In this mythology, a gargoyle is the smallest of the stone trolls and has a natural affinity for rocks of all kinds.) When Brianna refuses, the woman threatens Brianna with future violence and makes good on her threat the following day when she sends a horde of doxies to attack the shop. When Brianna and Pug go after the escaping doxies through the Faerie portal in Brianna's bedroom, Nick and David follow them. Immediately, all three are plunged into the poisonous political climate that permeates Faerie. Nick and David are particularly vulnerable because some of the Sidhe nobles want to block them from returning to the human realm because they want to keep them as pets.

     Most of the story follows their adventures in Faerie, where Briana has to     successfully juggle a number of delicate tasks, including the following:
     >  Deal with the vicious Sidhe nobles.
     >  Try to get along with her siblings (and keep them from killing her and her friends).
     >  Maintain a friendly relationship with her father.
     >  Protect Nick and David from harm in Faerie.
     >  Get Nick and David back to the human world in one piece.

     As the story progresses, Leu learns that Valjeta, a long-time enemy, is about to attack his kingdom, and he creates an elaborate, secretive plan to keep Brianna safe. 

     Although a few of the story lines are resolved, some are left unresolved, while others are never really examinedfuel for the plot of book 2. For example, in an early chapter, Brianna receives a powerful magical knife from a character who turns up late in the book in an unexpected role, but we never hear anything more about that knife. Also, in the human world, the FBI suspects that Brianna and her staff are mixed up in some type of illegal operation that has resulted in serial murders. That story line just simmers in the background with no resolution. Then we have the magical fertility totem that Leu sends to Brianna early in the booka hint that she needs to start reproducing. If Brianna so much as touches that statue, she will mate with the first male she seesbut that story line stops almost immediately, pushed aside by Brianna's adventure in Faerie. Thus, we can't be sure that Nick will be "the one" (although he and Brianna are quickly developing a mutual attraction). The book ends with a major cliff-hanger that leaves Brianna in a difficult position and with Faerie in the throes of war.

     Adams tells the story in the third-person voice from the perspectives of several characters, primarily Brianna (16 chapters) and Nick (13 chapters). The remaining 16 chapters are divided among the perspectives of King Leu, Ju-Long (a dragon who is Leu's old friend and his spymaster), Leu's daughter Lucienne, and Asara (Leu's treacherous mistress, the mother of two of his children). 

     Adams is a terrific writer, and this book is a fine example of her talents. The story drew me in immediately and kept me engrossed right through to its climactic ending. Brianna is a multi-layered character who is torn between her human feelings and her Fae heritage, but she doesn't indulge in long angst-filled interior monologues. (Thank goodness for that!) She tries to make her life in the mortal world as normal as possible, but when events in Faerie erupt into war, she jumps right into the action with passion, courage, advanced martial arts combat skills, and powerful magic. David is also a nicely developed character. Although he is human, David has nurtured his magical heritage and has received unconditional acceptance from Brianna and Pug
acceptance that his homophobic father refuses to give him. Nick's character isn't quite as well developed, but there is time for that in book 2. Now that he knows the truth about Brianna, he'll have to walk a fine line with the FBI agent who is investigating her. 

     If you love to read well-written, suspenseful, romantic fantasies, I'm sure that you will enjoy this book. Adams' use of multiple perspectives allows the reader to see the whole pictureor at least the parts of it that she wants you to see. I'm definitely looking forward to the second book to see what happens next to Brianna and her friends and foes. Click HERE to read chapter one of The Exile.

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