After such a long time of anthologies and shorter reads, I felt it was time to dive into something longer, more involved, and on a much larger scale. Not as long as Elantra nor as overwhelming as Safehold, I felt it was time and past to reread The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Starting, of course, with the first book, The Outstretched Shadow.
Our main character is Kellen Tavadon as he begins his hero’s journey from paradise. Or at least, what Armethalieh’s leaders would have their people believe to be paradise. The Golden City holds almost anything you could want, except freedom from its laws. Which chafes Kellen more than most. After all, his father Lycaelon Tavadon is the Arch-Mage, the very ruler of the City.
The book is divided into three portions. Firstly, Kellen in the City. Second, Kellen in the Wildlands. Lastly, Kellen in the Elven Lands and beyond. Not all the books in the trilogy can be so easily broken down by geography, but in this case it’s true. As I mentioned, this is a hero’s journey so not only is Kellen learning about the wider world as he travels (and we with him), but he’s learning about himself and what he is capable of. We also have some interludes featuring other characters. Some back in Armethalieh, others in the World Without Sun, setting the stage for the conflicts not only in this book, but the rest of the trilogy.
When I first read this back in the mid-2000s, I was thoroughly impressed by the epic setting, by the detailed layers of history, and by the fact that the Elves don’t ask questions. I’m not entirely certain why I feel like that last fact is worth noting, but it is one of the ways I distinguish this version of Elves from others. I was lucky in my timing back then as well, picking up The Outstretched Shadow and To Light a Candle in paperback mere months before When Darkness Falls was released in hardcover. The gap was small enough that I couldn’t resist getting my hands on the third book as soon as possible – I absolutely had to know how it ended!
This is one of those series that I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read it since I first discovered it. I don’t think I’ve read it more than once a year since then, so the total’s probably around 10 times, give or take.
There’s more to the Obsidian Trilogy than just standard fantasy tropes, of course. It’s about prejudice and fear breeding hatred and distrust, it’s about hanging separately if we don’t hang together, it’s about promises and secrets and trusting to the greater good with faith alone. It’s about sacrifice, and doing what’s right over what you’re told. It’s about love, but not sex. It’s about being more than the sum of your parts…or being less. Whichever you choose. It’s about choice.
Add that and Lackey’s name and you can see why I picked it up and why I reread it again and again and again.