As war and treachery loom, an ambitious man's mission threatens to topple two dazzling realms and their formidable rulers: Catherine de Medici, the Dark Queen, and Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle.
It is 1588, and as the Spanish Armada prepares to besiege England, Paris balances on the brink of revolution. To maintain her grip on the throne and on the dark magic that has become her obsession, Catherine de Medici turns to Louis Xavier, a ruthless corsair who was schooled in the dark arts and has mastered piracy along the Spanish main. But Louis's basest instincts are held in check by the kindness of Lady Jane Danvers, a British exile whose innate sense of honor is but one facet of her complex and passionate nature.
On Faire Isle, Ariane Cheney, unaware of the escalating threat from the Dark Queen, struggles with the task of protecting the daughters of the earth and their vast store of ancient magical wisdom. Weak and desperate for an advantage, the ailing Catherine makes a devil's bargain that will cast a shadow over all.
In Carroll's conclusion to her Dark Queen series, Catherine de Medici returns, still eager to claim the knowledge of the Book of Shadows. Catherine enlists the ruthless Louis Xavier to kidnap Meg Wolfe, a sorceress who is reputed to have the knowledge, from Faire Isle where she is under the protection of Ariane Deauville. Xavier, who has unfinished family business on Faire Isle, wants nothing to do with the place, but washes ashore there when his ship veers off course in a storm. Once on the island, he falls in love with Lady Jane Danvers, Ariane's successor, but his peace is shattered by the reach of the Dark Queen, who must be destroyed if any of the women of Faire Isle are to survive. While the focus is mostly on Louis Xavier and Meg's stories, familiar characters from previous installments appear. The backdrop of political upheaval in France in 1588 is an exciting and extravagant setting, but the ending feels anticlimactic in light of the terrifying threat the Dark Queen has posed throughout the series. Carroll's fans, however, should be well satisfied. (Aug.)
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July 19, 2009
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