The next book I’m reviewing here is Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe, a modern fantasy novel by Sanna Hines. The book takes place in the 21st century, primarily in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, and draws heavily on the legend and mythology of that part of the world for its fantasy elements.
In the book’s backstory, the magical races of the Danann and the Formorians have been at war for centuries, a war which has taken place over a few different parallel dimensions and which has employed magical weapons and strategies which have shown up in our world’s mythologies in various ways. Characters such as Merlin (of the Arthurian legends) and Finn Mac Cool (of Irish legend) were and still are immortal players in this conflict, and legendary items such as the sword Excalibur and the Four Treasures of Dagda (Sword, Spear, Cauldron, and Stone) have all played roles in this conflict. I’m not especially familiar with this particular area of mythology, but I can imagine somebody else really geeking out over it.
The story gets set into motion when a teenage girl named Lia is kidnapped by Formorians, who have plans to use her in their quest to discover the secret behind Danann immortality. Lia’s father, Sam, has to set out on a quest to save her, with the help of the Danann woman Tessa, her nephew Cory, a dog named Cu, and several other characters who all have some connection with the ongoing conflict. Tied up in all of this are teleportation portals, ancient temples, and a ritual involving the alignment of three asteroids in the shape of the mystical triskelion symbol.
I recognize that this book’s worldbuilding is excellent. It created a believable and detailed world by merging together disparate mythologies, real-world geography, and science. I was impressed with this. That being said, I had a lot of difficulty keeping track of who the characters were. I know that some were ordinary humans and some were of the magical races, but in terms of the way they interacted with each other, they weren’t very distinct. In the final quarter of the book some of the mysteries about the different characters’ pasts and connections were revealed, and in that section I was able to see clearly how the characters were different, how their different backgrounds had led them to play the role that each had played in the story. But, there were at least a dozen other characters besides those I’ve named here who all were important yet indistinct until the last quarter, and this was a problem for me. Having finished the book, I feel like if I reread it knowing the ending I would be able to get more out of it, and appreciate the story more.
Overall, it was an enjoyable (if confusing) read, a fantasy work not quite like any that I’d read before. I should note, though, that the book is written for adults, not children. It does have some profanity and a fair amount of strong sexual innuendo and implied (if not totally descriptive) sex scenes which most parents probably wouldn’t want their children or young teenagers reading.
As a final note, I might not be able to post reviews to this blog as frequently as before, as I’m working a lot now and devoting a lot of time to writing my second book, Tales of Cynings Volume II. Reviews here may come every two weeks, or even less often.