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Darksong Rising

EricWijnen 27 januari 2024

Darksong Rising is the third book in the The Spellsong Cycle by L.E. Modesitt Jr.. It is possible that parts from the first book, The Soprano Sorceress and the sesond book, The Spelsong War is/are spoiled when reading on. Look for the former parts for less/non-spoiler review(s) on The Spellsong Cycle.

The Spellsong Cycle:
Part 1: The Soprano Sorceress
Part 2: The Spellsong War


L.E. Modesitt Jr. is probably most known for his epic Recluse series, but besides Fantasy he also wrote a lot of Science Fiction. The Spellsong Cycle is an Epic Portal Fantasy where a singer and teacher is brought over to the world of Erde. On Erde Anna is, because of her background in music, probably the most powerful sorceress on Erde. But eventhough she is powerful, she also doesn't know how the magic on Erde works and that really has it's drawbacks.

The Magic System:
The magic system employed on Erde is songmagic. There are two kinds of songmagic: Clearsong en Darksong. Darksong binds the living or once-living. Darksong is dangerous to use, but the why/how is not further explained. Clearsong binds the nonliving.
People can use magic by singing, but it has to be clear singing, which means without dissonance. The song can be enhanced by using musical instruments, but these then needs to be in harmony with the singing, which is somehow a bit lacking on Erde. Next to that the singer/sorcerer needs to visualize in his mind what is to happen. So any distraction might be hazardous. There do not seem to be a lot of sorceresses, and the reason for that might be that females become infertile when they use songmagic. Using songmagic also takes something from the one employing it. All sorcerers seem to have an insatiable hunger and need to eat almost continuously.
In The Soprano Sorceress Anna found out that is isn't possible for her to cast a spell that directly effects her (say a spell to heal herself), nor that it is possible to create things from nothing. If a spell for instance requires wood or stone it will take that from the immediate surroundings. The further away these products are the harder the spell is for the sorcerer to perform.
In The Spellsong War Anna found out that eventhough she thinks she is using Clearsong, she is probably unwittingly using a lot of Darksong too. The cost for reaching her daughter in the mistworlds is mounting with each try. And she struggles a lot with when would be the right time to try again.

After she subdued some of the Defalkan Lords and saved Defalk from foreign invasian (again), she created a school for the young Lords and Ladies that will inherit Defalk and starts building bridges and roads so travel within Defalk is easier. She tries to improve the lives of the commoners, especially the women. But the Lords and external forces won't subside. Again she must make sure that Defalk survives. The problems with her magic seems to get worse. A Darksinger using drums appears an awfull lot of the time when Anna scrys for danger. And to make things worse, even the new Prophet of Music is aiming for Darksong.

Again Modesitt shows that a country ruled solely by men is not that great of an idea, but being fearful isn't that great either. Not all of the Lords seem to follow Anna out of fear. People need to work together to get the best out of each.

Again character building is a big part of this volume, not only from without Anna has to cope with intrige, but also from within Defalk, and even within her close circle of confidants clashes appear.

The chapters in this book seem much shorter than in the previous two, and that makes for an easier read.

It is hard to comprehend that this was suppossed to be the last volume in The Spellsong Cycle, as that is what is stated on the back of the book. Because if you've read the back and are at about a hundred pages from the end of the story, the thought really sinks in: How is this suppossed to end? And if this was the end of this series that would definitely be a downer. I think that Modesitt also realised that, and gave us two more books in The Spellsong Cycle.

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