The Dark Eyes’ War
"A bitter old woman’s curse has set in motion events that have felled innocent lives across an already war-weary land. She has paid the ultimate price, and an end to the curse is at hand, but her evil has created chaos and destruction.
Qirsi all across the Southlands are dying from a plague that turns their own magic against them, allowing an Eandi army from Stelpana to boldly march into their territory. But magic has many faces, and the Qirsi aren’t the only ones cursed; even as Stelpana’s force wins battles, an insidious magic has corrupted the spells of their sorcerers, and what began as a military triumph is suddenly jeopardized. The future of the Southlands hangs in the balance, as the deeds of previous generations wreak terrible consequences on both sides in this misbegotten war."
The Dark-Eyes War is the third and last book of The Blood of the Southlands Trilogy by David B. Coe.
The finale of The Horsemen’s Gambit left the Southlands on the brink of a new Blood War between the Eandi and the Qirsi. The same three factions, the magical Qirsi, non-magical Eandi and magical Mettai, that Coe uses in his first two books, make up the focus of The Dark-Eyes War. The “Dark-Eyes” faction is led by a ambitious young captain Tirnya and her father, Jenoe, the marshal of their forces. They both seek to reclaim their ancestral lands and for this endeavour to work they have to enlist help of the Mettai. Tirnya manages to enlist the help of one Mettai village, however, this particular village has a dark past… In the second book there were several storylines but in The Dark-Eyes’ War there are only two: Grinsa and the Fal’Borna Qirsi and Tirnya and her Eandi/Mettai army. Coe does not give a bias to the actions of either the Qirsi or the Eandi/Mettai and he tells the story with an even hand on both sides. His way of telling a story was thoroughly enjoyable for me because most of the time there is a rather bland good versus evil battle in fantasy books but here Coe allows you find your favourite characters in either faction.
There was one sentence in the book that I thought Coe used brilliantly. He already had me glued to the pages but this following line just compelled me to keep reading:
“The first battle was theirs. And then it all began to go horribly wrong.”
This just stuck something in me and compelled me to continue reading non-stop!
Another notable feature of Coe is that he uses his earlier world/character building to further the actions of his characters and events that occur. He also does not over-do-it on the magic front but leaves just enough to make it interesting and original, with his versatility in storytelling your leaving me wanting to know what the sorcerers will throw at each other. The magic that he uses for the Qirsi was well defined and the Mettai conjure their spells by incantations. I almost think that Coe did this on purpose, so as not to limit himself when describing their actions. Their magic gave a much darker feel to the story.
There was, however, one part in the book that gave me a feeling that Coe came up with it while writing the last few chapters in the book and just pasted it in the middle of the story. When Grinsa and Qirsi are waging war, the village where Grinsa and his Fal’Borna came from (and where Cresenne and Bryntelle reside) is being attacked by a rival clan and quickly beaten by the help of the Mettai Sirj and Besh. Although this attack does give reference to the clan-based way of living among the Qirsi of the Southlands it did not do anything to further enrich the bigger story,and just why the Qirsi and Eandi/Mettai are at war with each other. Without this part I believe the book would have been much better.
When I read a book for reviewing purposes I always try to remember the good and bad aspects and write them down on my notepad. When I was about 30 pages from the ending I wrote something down “What happened to ….” No, I will not mention a name but I must say that I was surprised that he did return as Coe gave him a brilliant introduction. All-in-all I must say that Coe thought of everything in the The Dark-Eyes’ War and it was a nicely finished story.
The Dark-Eyes’ War is one of the better third books of a trilogy, the storyline throughout never got boring and there were always new twists that urged me to continue reading. It does not solely focus on the armies marching to war and battling but also focuses on the interactions between the characters. The ending of The Dark-Eyes’ War is final and does not leave many open questions – it really seals the Blood of the Southlands series. I do hope to read more of David B. Coe in the future, maybe using the Forelands/Southlands settings (with a fresh set of characters) or in a whole new world. He really is a author to be reckoned with.