Trying something else new. I read a lot of series. A lot. But I don’t usually review them, because I can’t figure out how to review a book in the middle (or even the end) of a series without spoilers.
So, I’m carving out a space where I can talk about series I love.
First up…The Stariel Series by AJ Lancaster.
First, those covers. I knew that these were MY BOOKS before I ever opened one. Scrumptious.
Here’s the synopsis of the first book—
The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is.
Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they?
Will it be the lord's eldest son, who he despised?
His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense?
His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?
Hetta knows it won't be her, and she's glad of it. Returning home for her father's funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.
But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with.
Winged, beautifully deadly problems.
For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.
So, this book is set in a world where the fae have been exiled. The Iron Law has keep lesser fae and most greater fae out of sight for centuries, unable to cross the border between the fae and mortal realms.
“The High King rules over all of Faerie. He issues few laws, but when he commands, Faerie obeys. You know what the fae are, Hetta, but you thought them a mere tale. The Iron Law is the reason for that. Centuries ago, he forbade any passage between Faerie and Mortal.”
—Lord of Stariel
So, this is our set-up. Hetta (a fiercely independent illusionist) has returned home for her father’s funeral. Her father was Lord of the land called Stariel, a land that is differentiated from other domains because it exists on fae lands. The Iron Law still applies in Stariel, but because the land is magical, the order of succession is controlled by the land itself. There’s a Choosing ceremony, and Stariel will select its own new Lord.
And after The Choosing, hilarity ensues.
Well, not exactly…hilarity. What ensues is a whole bunch of action, and family drama, and court drama—both human and fae. Kidnappings. Fae sweeping in on gorgeous wings to make friends with human princesses. Mistrust. Distrust. Romance. Longing looks. Brothers and sisters and cousins who all have agendas that do not always align with your own. Neighbors you can’t trust, kings you can’t even FIND. Money you don’t have. Tenants, sometimes in the form of mischievous lesser fae. Brownies are adorable…and yet wholly annoying.
This series reminded me a little bit of a lighter, less fraught version of The Chronicles of Amber. There’s no Pattern to walk, but there is peril, and backstabbing, and death. But there is also light, and comedy and families being kind to one another, which is something that Amber completely lacked.
The series wrapped up with the fourth book, although the author did announce a single, standalone book that would feature one of the secondary characters. The possible future existence of that book, while a lovely surprise, will not continue this main story in any way that should put you off from reading it. I mean, I’m happy to have a little more time with XXXXXXX, but the series is done and complete without this new book.
I’d say that if you are someone inclined to like fantasy that is on the lighter side, I enthusiastically recommend this series. Man, I loved it.
Books are $6 each, or available through Kindle Unlimited.