Who recommends: Preeti, Lori, Lynn, Barbara
Who discommends: Edith
Into the Darklands (1991)
Children of the Blood (1992)
Lady of Mercy (1993)
Chains of Darkness, Chains of Light (1994)
aka Michelle West; Michelle Sagara West
INTO THE DARKLANDS is the best fantasy analog to a vampire romance I've read, this story of a demonic lord who falls so hard and so helplessly for the woman who is his mortal enemy that he'll even attempt to forsake his own dark nature to keep her. Sagara kept ratcheting the tension so high that I could almost physically feel it. INTO THE DARKLANDS does have a cliffhanger ending, so keep Book 2 handy before you begin. At least you've read the conclusion of Darclan and Sara's story, so you won't be dying of suspense to experience Darclan's fall and suffering and redemption.
The two other amazing authors whose work I find closest to Sagara's in spirit (okay, okay, in featuring dark seductive lovers) are Laurell K. Hamilton for her Anita Blake books and Anne Bishop for her The Black Jewels Trilogy (DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD and HEIR TO THE SHADOWS so far, with QUEEN OF THE DARKNESS being highly, highly anticipated.)--Preeti
Finished INTO THE DARKLANDS - what a marvelous book. I would be tempted to give it 5 stars - although I don't normally rate books except as keepers and non-keepers.
A setting in a land where there is Dark and Light struggling. Erin is born into those who fight for Light and we follow her childhood and early training. Then we encounter the First of the Dark, who is one of those characters that you can't explain why you like. A nightwalker - since he's so enmeshed with the Dark - he offers Erin a bargain on a whim - come with him willingly and he'll let some of her people go. Lord Stephanos doesn't do this from anything other than momentary interest in her reaction, but Erin gives him her promise she won't try to escape.
Erin tries to make life more bearable for those who are killed for no other reason than they use their own name. Slaves aren't allowed to have names and are certainly disposable. We start asking a fundamental question: If Lord Stephanos starts showing more "merciful" actions, just because it pleases Erin (now Sara, don't ask), then he now has a spark of Light in him, doesn't he? But if he can change, and he is certainly much older and steeped in Dark than Sara is in Light, then wouldn't Sara herself also be changed somehow?
Crucial to the actions of both is the love they find for the other.
Five stars because it deals philosophically with the issue of Light and Dark and - as an allegory - makes me view "good people" and "bad people" differently. There is in Lord Stephanos never the choice of knowing the difference between good and evil (by our definition) - he simply is what he is. Same with Sara - she never made a decision to fight for Light - her parents did, her grandmother is the Lady of Light, it's not a choice she makes.
And then I read the second - luckily I have LADY OF MERCY. Do I want to read LADY tonight? Quite definitely, no one should read CHILDREN without having LADY OF MERCY at hand.--Barbara