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The Battle of Evernight: The Bitterbynde Book III    by Cecilia Dart-Thornton order for
Battle of Evernight
by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
Order:  USA  Can
Aspect, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This third volume of the Bitterbynde series, The Battle of Evernight, begins with what I wish every such series episode included, a synopsis of events to date. Despite that, I would not recommend that anyone jump into this episode without having read The Ill-Made Mute and The Lady of the Sorrows first, as the world is most unusual and the plot complex.

By the end of The Lady of the Sorrows, the heroine has gone through several names - Imrhien, Rohain, Tahquil and finally Ashalind. We find out that she originally lost her memory because of the condition, the 'bitterbynde' caused by having passed through the Gate between Erith and the realm of the FaNaNran. We also find out that fey creatures, Seelie and Unseelie, so perilous to humans, were unleashed through a conflict within the FaNaNran royal family that exiled both their Prince and King to the world of mortals. Ashalind is being sought because she holds the key to their return, though she still cannot remember the details of the location of the portal.

In The Lady of the Sorrows, Rohain's beloved Thorn turned out to be James D'Armancourt, King-Emperor of Erith, and to return her love. He gave her a potent leaf-ring for protection. When a volcanic eruption exploded her out of the refuge, where Thorn had left her on his way to wage war, she returned to her roots to recover her memories. As this third volume opens, she still calls herself Tahquil. She knows that the minions of the Raven Lord, Prince Morragan, are on her heels. She takes on the quest to rid humankind of all the 'shadowy, sparkling, fair, and terrible kind' of the FaNaNran. With her companions, court lady Viviana and the child Caitri, Tahquil embarks on a dangerous quest northeast to locate the Gate.

Through perils and cliff-hanging adventures that include swinging through forest heights, passing underneath a river, over an impenetrable Hedge-maze, and through Icepipes, Tahquil attracts various fey helpers to her fellowship. These are the urisk Tully, a goat-legged seelie wight who enjoys human company; the hostile swanmaiden Whithiue whose aid is unwillingly forced by a geas; and the waterhorse Tighnacomaire who was freed by Imrhien in The Ill-Made Mute. There are monsters everywhere and Caitri and Viviana take turns at being targeted and injured, the latter by partaking of tainted goblin fruit.

After tragedy, when the Wild Hunt captures its prey, Ashalind has another huge surprise in store and becomes a spectator to the battle between the FaNaNran lords. The Battle of Evernight is high fantasy, a tale of lovers parted and a quest with shifting goals through a marvelous, perilous landscape. I would recommend it unreservedly except that some readers will find it weighty in descriptions which, though lush and lyrical, do slow the story down.

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