Review: “The House of Gaian,” Anne Bishop

Pros: Stunning and emotional climax of the Tir Alainn series
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

The House of Gaian is book three in the Tir Alainn Trilogy, after The Pillars of the World and Shadows and Light. In this installment, the war between the Inquisition-led barons of the east and the witch- and Fae-led peoples of the west comes to a head. Adolfo, “the Witches’ Hammer” and leader of the Inquisition, falls deeper and deeper into madness and evil. Meanwhile, the Hunter and the Huntress–both part-Fae and part-witch, lead their own army into battle. Each side delves deep into their bag of tricks in the bloody meeting of forces.

 

The opening is nicely detailed, avoiding info-dumps while casually reminding the reader of the story-so-far in case it’s been some time since you last read Shadows and Light. You’ll get to see quite a bit of character transformation as each character completes his or her story-arc. The dividing line between witch and Fae in the west is all but done away with as the characters come to understand the origin of each and the ways in which they complement each other. Also, while there are characters with truly epic storylines, the series doesn’t pile all of the “special” events and abilities into one character, instead allowing all of the characters to shine. It’s wonderful to see Fae who don’t view witches and humans as prey or amusement, and the intermixing of the groups allows for great relationships and clashes. The Fae have become less uniform as the series has progressed, starting with an archetype and then drifting outward into fully-developed characters. I felt totally invested in the stories of Liam, Breanna, Selena, Ashk, Ari, Aiden and Lyrra, Morag, and so forth. I shed a few tears here and there because the characters had their hooks into me and my emotions rose and fell with them.

“We are the Fae,” the man said angrily. “We are the Mother’s Children.”
“The Mother’s spoiled children,” Liam snapped.

There exists unequivocal evil in this world. In some stories this would feel cartoonish, but it’s appropriate to the larger-than-life feel of Bishop’s characters and world. Note that Bishop pulls no punches–you’ll find some seriously dark material in here. The Inquisitors are foul creatures who take their rage out on women of all kinds and the men who support them.

The climax of the book pulled me in to the point where I couldn’t put the book down; obviously I’m not going into further detail so as to avoid spoilers. If you enjoy Anne Bishop’s larger-than-life characters, unusual world-building, and epic storylines, then I think you’ll find that The House of Gaian satisfies!

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