In Lightlark, which is the first book of the Saga by Alex Aster, Isla Crown is a Wilding Ruler, but a powerless one. Rumour has it: her mother had a fling with someone who is not a Wildling and thus Isla was born with no powers. That does not mean she can call in sick for the most important even in her lifetime: the Centennial. The prophecy was the reason each leader from six different realms gather when the mystical island of Lightlark reappears.
Only joined can the curses be undone
only after one of the six has won,
When the original offense
Has been committed again
And a ruling line has to come to an end
Only then can history amend
Before the story starts, the author explains the curses and the unique powers of each region before launching into the story. There is a brief history lesson, then we get to meet the heroine Isla Crown and her best friend Celeste. The girls were rules of their island and therefore have to take part in the deadly Centennial that might end their lives but save many more. When the storm dissipated temporarily and the island reappears, Isla get to meet the rules from each neighboring realm. We have Grimshaw, the lord of the Nightshade who seems interested in her from the get go. Azul was the ruler of Skyling, Cleo the ruler of Moonling, Celeste the ruler of Starling. Oro was the King of Lightlark and was a Sunling.
Lightlark is the first book for the series. Isla had a few things to do on the island when she got there. The paramount one was not to die prematurely and sentence her people to a slow, certain death. Then she had to parade herself in front of other leaders to show them how powerful she was, while trying to find the Heart of the Island. Then she had to do a lot of reconnaissance to find out how to break a curse without dying. As a powerless ruler, Isla is aware of the consequence of going back empty-handed. Aside from enjoying the beautiful world and the people’s abilities to end her without a word, Isla did pretty well with the challenges set by each ruler of the realm. Most of the suspense comes from wondering if she would make it to the end.
Of course, there was no doubt about her surviving each challenge, but the plot twist in the end was delicious. Even though I am not truly a fan of love triangles, there is a certain appeal when you have the attention of the sunny-hero-type and the gloomy-villain-type boy at the same time.
Nightbane comes next
Nightbane is the second book for the Lightlark series. You are lucky; you don’t have to suffer waiting to find out what happened. The first book ended in an inconvenient location and after some explosive event, so I was not pleased about that. This book documents Isla’s journey towards finding herself, at the same time learning about history. I am totally not sure what happened, but the story became a little confusing.
The characters were doing things unexpectedly, but this is a book about secrecy so I get that. But the characters were not well fleshed out, thus it was hard to understand motive until it was explained. The reasoning did not make much sense either. The more I read, the more I am convinced that Booktok recommendations are not always to be trusted. Perhaps the readers are really young adults who love a juicy love triangle, but this is not for me.
Lightlark series may be fun to read with its magic and history, but there should be more than just a love triangle and some hidden secrets. I love secrets, but I love hints more. The hints are simply not there to confuse you. It should be directing you towards the answer, and hopefully you and the author can come into an agreement to what it is. Overall, nice setting and premise, but not that good on the execution.
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