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A Gathering of Gargoyles: Book Two of the Darkangel Trilogy    by Meredith Ann Pierce order for
Gathering of Gargoyles
by Meredith Ann Pierce
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (1984)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Gathering of Gargoyles is the second book in Meredith Ann Pierce's remarkable Darkangel trilogy. Though I had somehow missed the first book, The Darkangel, I was able to catch up quickly and follow the storyline, which stars former slave girl Aeriel. In the first episode, Aeriel was abducted by a vampiric darkangel, Irrylath, who made her his last bride. She saved him from the White Witch and gave her heart to return Irrylath to mortal form. They fled to his real mother, Lady Syllva, in Isternes. Though they were wed, the marriage has not been consummated, Irrylath suffering from continual nightmares and still tied somehow to the White Witch.

As A Gathering of Gargoyles opens, Aeriel cries over her love for Irrylath and his apparent lack of feeling for her. She is visited by lightmaidens who share a riddle with her that ends 'A gathering of gargoyles, / a feasting on the stone, / The witch of Westernesse's / hag overthrown.' They send her on quest across the Sea-of-Dust. On her journey she gathers special objects - including a cloak and five apricoks - and makes a pet of a crystal dustshrimp, all of which are helpful to her quest. The shapechanging heron who aided her in The Darkangel also returns to Aeriel, bringing her walking stick and accompanying her on her journey.

Aeriel helps and is helped by others, and gathers gargoyles to her entourage (feeding each an apricok) as she wends her way through Westernesse. She defeats bandits, rescues a sacrifice, and evades darkangels. She's drugged and imprisoned by the suzerain of Pirs, where she learns of her own history and heritage. She escapes, is joined by an old friend, trapped by an old enemy, and ultimately learns the riddle's meaning. Meredith Ann Pierce writes enchantingly, leaving me anxious to read the conclusion to the trilogy, The Pearl of the Soul of the World.

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