Rainier vel'En Daris Feyreisen is the King of the Fading Lands and the one and only Tairen Soul, able to shape-shift into a great winged, fire-breathing cat. His name is legendary as the fey who once scorched the Earth when his mate was taken from him and brutally murdered. Yet she was merely the mate of his heart and not the shei'tani, his soul mate. For more than a thousand years, he's remained in the Fading Lands, but both the Fey and the Tairen are in danger of dying out and he must find a way to save them both. He also senses the evil of the Elden Mages once again rising and knows that he must protect his people. Desperate for a way to do just that, he consults with the Eye of Truth, searching for an answer, and the Eye leads him to the human city of Celieria and a maiden with hair the color of Tairen flame. Although it has always been the lot of the Tairen Soul to walk alone and none has ever had a truemate, Rain knows in his heart that she is meant to be his shei'tani and he will move heaven and earth to make her his.
Elysetta Baristani is the daughter of a simple woodcarver, taken in by him and his wife when she was found in the woods as an infant. Since she was just a child, she's been enthralled by the tales of the Fey and most particularly those of Rain Tairen Soul. When it's announced that the Fey King will be visiting Celieria, she's eager to attend the welcoming parade with her two younger sisters. But she's shocked when Rain swoops out of the sky to save her from being trampled by the crowd and then claims her as his truemate. Ellie had already been betrothed to another man against her will, so Rain's declaration isn't unwelcome. However, trying to prepare to become the wife of the Tairen Soul in just a few weeks is overwhelming. Ellie has suffered from nightmares and dark visions her entire life, something that she'd had under control until Rain arrived. When mysterious magical things begin occurring around her, Rain realizes his bride-to-be is more than a mere human, but Ellie fears that when he learns the full story of her background that he may no longer want her.
Lord of the Fading Lands is the first book in C. L. Wilson's epic fantasy romance series, Tairen Soul. Rain is the king of the Fey and the Tairen Soul. But both the Fey and the Tairen are dying out and Rain is at a loss as to how to save them. When he asks the Eye of Truth what he can do, the answer he receives is the image of a young woman of Celieria, the human realm, so he begins the journey there to find her. Elysetta is the daughter of a woodcarver, who is fascinated by stories of the Fey. When they hear of Rain's visit, the first time he's come to Celieria in a thousand years, she's eager to take her two little sisters to see the Tairen Soul in person. Before he ever reached Celieria, Rain heard Ellie's soul cry out to him and now knows that she's his truemate, so after seeing her in the crowd and saving her from being trampled, he claims her as his own. However, what he doesn't know is that she's already been betrothed to someone else, and getting that betrothal overturned could cause an international political incident. Even once he does, he'll have to court Ellie and win her over so that she will accept their truemate bond. And then there are their enemies who are out to destroy them. Rain has sensed that the Elden Mages are once again rising in power and Ellie may not be as human as she seems. Together they will have to fight off the Mages' dark sorcery, while Ellie battles the darkness inside her in order to find true happiness and peace.
Rainier is the Feyreisen, the King of the Fey, and the Tairen Soul, able to shape-shift into a Tairen, a great winged, fire-breathing cat. The Fey and the Tairen are dependent upon one another and both are dying out. Rain knows he must do something to save them, so when he receives the vision of Ellie in the Eye of Truth, he doesn't hesitate to go looking for her. Rain's exploits are legendary, but he's also feared, for he once loved a woman with such great passion that when Sariel was murdered, he went mad with Fey Wilding Rage and scorched the entire land, killing thousands. However, Sariel was merely the mate of his heart and not a truemate. Every Tairen Soul before him has walked alone and none ever had a truemate until Rain senses Ellie. Once he claims her and discovers that she's already betrothed, he won't take no for an answer when it comes to breaking that betrothal. Although it's difficult to rein in the beast within him, he uses diplomacy to get his way, but in doing so, he makes an enemy of the man who is set aside. Although Rain has sensed the rising power of the Elden Mages, he has no idea that one is in Celieria, manipulating people and trying to get to Ellie. Surrounded by foes, he'll have his work cut out for him keeping his shei'tani safe until their wedding day while winning over her heart. Rain is just too cool for words! A hero who can shift into a giant cat dragon? Yes, please!;-) Not to mention, he's an honorable man who takes his role as the Feyreisen very seriously, as well as protecting Ellie and everyone who is important to him. Although he dropped out of the sky, scooped Ellie up, and claimed her as his truemate, she still has a choice in the matter as to whether she'll ultimately accept the truemate bond, which is more than I can say for her first betrothal. He also courts her very sweetly, and even though it's difficult to keep the beast inside in check, he wouldn't dream of breaking his oath to leave her physically untouched until their wedding, although he has some fun, magical ways of getting around it.;-) So overall, Rain was a hero I really fell for.
Elysetta was found abandoned in the woods as a baby and taken in by a simple woodcarver and his wife. Her parents are good and loving, but when they invite a young man over to court her-one she doesn't care for at all-he takes advantage and marks her (a kind of love bite). According to (rather backwards, if you ask me) Celierian law, this automatically makes her his betrothed even if she didn't consent. She prays to the Lord of Light to send her someone--anyone--else and gets Rain. At first, she isn't sure what to make of his claiming her. She's spent most of her life enthralled by the tales of the Fey and Rain himself, so on the one hand, it's an honor that he would even want a plain, simple girl like herself, but on the other, it's all rather overwhelming. Then there are the nightmares, seizures, and dark visions that have plagued her all her life to the point that her mother even once tried to have her exorcised. She'd gotten it under control through meditation, but the stress of suddenly being declared Rain's shei'tani and planning the wedding starts to make these things crop up again, along with strange magical things that start to happen around her. Rain soon realizes his beloved isn't entirely human, but when he learns the entire story of her background, Ellie fears he may no longer want her. Ellie is the epitome of sweetness, gentleness, and light, She loves her family deeply and tries to do what her parents say. But at the same time, she has a quiet strength and a fighting spirit within her that some don't see. Aside from her fiery red hair, she believes herself to be quite ordinary, which is partly why she hasn't had many suitors. When the handsome King of the Fey drops out of the sky and claims her as his truemate, she has a hard time understanding why he'd want her, but she embraces him nonetheless. I absolutely loved Ellie. She's an intriguing character with many layers that I enjoyed peeling back and discovering.
I recall when Lord of the Fading Lands was first released, it was all the rage among romance readers. With so many glowing reviews, I didn't hesitate to put it on my TBR list. However, it's taken me a long time to get around to reading it. Part of that is because I have so many books I want to read that some just get lost in the shuffle. However, it might also have partly been because I've never felt strongly drawn to fey stories. I don't know why, but boy am I glad that I put my reservations aside to give this one a try. It turned out to be an incredibly well-written story that grabbed me from the opening pages and didn't let go. I can scarcely believe that it was C. L. Wilson's first published book. I love the fantasy world that she's built filled with romance, political intrigue, and spiritual elements, along with action and adventure. It's part fairy-tale Cinderella story and part epic high fantasy. I loved Rain and Ellie together and think they're only going to grow into an even more formidable couple than they were in this book. In fact, there are many characters in the book, all of whom add to the story with their own unique personalities, perhaps none more so than Ellie's family and her handsome, brave Quintet of Fey warrior protectors. When I picked it up, I didn't realize that the series follows the same couple throughout. So, this first book ends with much still unresolved. There are the Elden Mages who are out to do great evil, there's Ellie's background that has yet to be fully plumbed, the dahl'reisen, Fey warriors who've given themselves over to the darkness and are being blamed for a spate of murders, a wedding to celebrate, and a truemate bond yet to be accepted. I'm already dying to learn what happens next and can't wait to continue the series as soon as I can fit the next book into my reading schedule, which will definitely be sooner rather than later.
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